An Important Reminder About Fall and Halloween Pet Safety in Palos Heights, IL
Fall is in full swing and the holidays are just around the corner. To help you and your four-legged family members enjoy a safe and happy autumn, we’d like to address some common fall and Halloween-related hazards and offer tips to mitigate any risk. Also, our team in Palos Heights, IL is always happy to answer your questions, so if you have some concerns about your pet’s health or safety, don’t hesitate to let us know by calling (708) 448-6600!
Fall Hazards for Pets
Below are some of the most important general seasonal hazards to keep in mind and prepare for.
While the change in temperature during the fall comes as no surprise to anyone, it can still be taken for granted. Plus, on certain days, the weather can change very suddenly. It’s important to realize that having a fur coat does not guarantee that your pet is fully protected against the cold. Dogs and cats can get hypothermia too, especially if it’s cold and damp outside.
For pets that prefer the outdoors, we strongly recommend providing them with a well-built shelter that is slightly elevated off the ground. This will help keep things dry. Straw can also prevent the shelter from becoming damp, but soft, dry bedding is also important. Make sure your pet has adequate food and water nearby as well, and take time to check in on them often.
However, it really is best to keep your pet inside with you as much as possible on blustery days. They’ll be much happier by your side, and you will be, too.
Symptoms of Hypothermia in Pets
If your pet has spent a considerable amount of time outside, keep an eye on them once you bring them in. If they continue to tremble well after they should be warm and seem lethargic and disoriented, they could be suffering from hypothermia and should see their veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if you’re not sure, it’s always better to be cautious and know for sure that your pet is out of harm’s way.
Some types of antifreeze, particularly those containing ethylene glycol, are more toxic than others, but we don’t recommend taking any chances. Whatever you use to prepare your vehicle for the winter, make sure you clean up any antifreeze spills on the floor of your garage or in the driveway. Securely close antifreeze containers and store them high up in a secure cabinet or on a shelf that only you can reach. Antifreeze ingestion can be fatal for your pet, so take every precaution when you’re using antifreeze.
Being aware of the following hazards and prepping accordingly can save you and your pet from an unpleasant trip to the ER. If you have concerns about anything that is not mentioned below, let us know!
Candy and Other Sweets
It’s a tale as old as time–some dogs and cats just can’t resist the lure of people food, especially sweets. And Halloween is known for them! It can be daunting to try to keep your pet away from the treats, especially if you have kids who unknowingly leave a trail of candy and wrappers in their wake. Still, having knowledge about what’s truly harmful can make your life (and your pet’s) much easier.
Here are some of the most common and dangerous sweets for pets:
- Hard candy – Hard candy is a risky enough choking hazard for humans (especially small children), so naturally it’s also a big danger for dogs and cats! Plus, it may contain harmful amounts of xylitol, which we’ll discuss briefly below.
- Xylitol – Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used on all kinds of things, including candy, sugar-free gum, baked goods like cookies and cupcakes, and more. The problem with xylitol is that it is highly toxic to pets, and can even be deadly. Check food labels and keep all sugar-free sweets hidden away where your pet can’t get to them. And let your family members know, too!
- Chocolate – Chocolate has long been known to cause problems for dogs, and the more cocoa it contains, the more toxic it will be. Notable symptoms of cocoa consumption in dogs include muscle tremors and an irregular, rapid heartbeat. Some dogs may even have a seizure.
- Grapes and raisins – Humans can digest grapes and raisins just fine, but our pets can’t. Simply put, ingesting either can do irreparable (and possibly fatal) damage to the kidneys.
- Macadamia nuts, pecans, and almonds – Nuts are very rich in fat, which can cause stomach upset in your pet. While they are not generally a huge concern, it’s best to keep any treats containing nuts out of your pet’s reach.
Candy Wrappers and Other Non-Edibles
Sometimes the sweets themselves aren’t the problem–it’s the plastic or foil packaging, or the stick that comes with them (think Blow Pops, Tootsie Roll Pops, etc.) Remind yourself (and your kids, if you have them) to dispose of their trash immediately and check under (and behind) the furniture just in case.
Potentially Hazardous Halloween Decor
You don’t need to skip out on decorations altogether just because you have a pet, but exercise major caution with the following:
- Candles – This one’s obvious–open flames are always a risk, whether or not you have pets, but the risk increases significantly when there’s a dog or cat in your home. Instead of real candles, try artificial ones instead.
- Strands of lights – Electrical cords can be tempting for pets that are chewers, but chewing cords can burn your pet’s mouth or potentially cause electrocution. If you’re going to hang lights in the house, make sure the cords are out of the way or covered by protective tubing. Or, you can place lights up high so your pet can’t get to them.
- Essential oils/potpourri – Certain scents can be extremely potent and irritating to your pet, or even make them ill. Loose potpourri can also be risky if your pet ingests some of it. For more information about harmful scents and oils, go here.
- Fake spiderweb – Fake spiderweb is kind of a hassle to put up (and take down). But the biggest issue is that for pets, it can pose a choking hazard if eaten, and if used outdoors, can entangle birds and other small wildlife.
- Small plastic parts – Anything that is small and plastic can put pets at risk for choking or bowel obstruction. Avoid decorations or costumes that have small, detachable parts that pets can swallow.
Additional Dangers on Halloween
When the trick-or-treaters come calling, you’ll be opening and closing your front door quite a lot. This can give your pet the idea of escape, and it only takes a second for a wayward pet to shimmy out the door. If you have a friend or family member at home with you, kindly ask them to hold onto your pet if they’re prone to bolting, or simply have them sit with your pet to keep them distracted. If need be, consider keeping your pet shut in a room (with plenty of space and access to food and water) during the trick-or-treating period.
For extra insurance, make sure your pet’s collar/harness tags are current, and think about getting them microchipped ahead of the holidays just in case. A registered microchip will greatly increase your pet’s chances of being traced back to you and returned promptly if they happen to go missing.
Last but not least, pets can make easy targets for pranksters on Halloween, especially black cats. Keep your cats and dogs indoors to keep them safe!