This column was submitted by the MSPCA.
As Massachusetts gears up for the annual Halloween fright-fest by selecting costumes and canvassing front lawns with headstones and spider webs, Angell Animal Medical Center is offering specific recommendations to help families enjoy the holiday while keeping their pets safe and healthy.
Topping the list of recommendations is a plea for pet owners to keep their four-legged friends inside during Halloween, with plenty of fresh food and water, and safe places to hide from the steady stream of visiting trick-or-treaters.
The following are additional safety tips that the veterinary team at Angell Animal Medical Center encourage all pet owners to follow:
- Remember that children dressed in costumes can frighten the family pet
Angell recommends costumes be laid out well in advance so that dogs and cats have an opportunity to smell and otherwise familiarize themselves with the garments. Allow pets access to their favorite indoor hiding areas should a family member — so recognizable out of costume — appear foreign and frightening to pets once dressed in their Halloween garb.
- Be careful when selecting pet costumes
If pet owners want to dress their animals for the holiday Angell urges caution; costumes should never constrict breathing or vision. Moreover, be sure costumes will not inhibit pets’ range of motion or become tangled in furniture or other objects.
- Establish a barrier to prevent pets from escaping through the front door
Because doors are constantly opening and closing during prime trick-or-treating hours it’s important to ensure pets cannot escape. Angell recommends using baby gates or, even better, sequestering pets in a safe and comfortable area of the home from which they cannot escape.
- Do not neglect farm animals who may live outside
If families or individuals keep rabbits, chickens, geese or any other farm animals outside, their hutch or enclosure should be well lit, and owners should check on them frequently through the evening.
- NEVER give pets Halloween candy
Chocolate or other treats can be harmful — or fatal — if consumed by family pets. It’s imperative that pets never have access to the candy bowl. If pets do consume candy, or exhibit other signs of illness, the medical center advises pet owners to immediately call their veterinarian or Angell Animal Medical Center.
- Remember that many neighborhoods celebrate Halloween at different times
By finding out what time celebrations begin in specific neighborhoods pet owners can ensure they have their safeguards in place to ensure the holiday is fun and safe for all — including pets.
“Too often we encounter medical emergencies on Halloween, whether it’s the family dog who ingested chocolate, or a beloved black cat who fell victim to a Holiday prank. Many holiday-related medical emergencies can be avoided if pet owners followed these simple tips,” said Kiko Bracker, DVM, DACVECC, Angell Animal Medical Center. “We urge all pet owners to adhere to these guidelines so that they and their pets have a safe Halloween.”
In case of an emergency, Angell Animal Medical Center’s Emergency/Critical Care service can be reached 24 hours a day at 617-522-7282 or pet owners can find more information about staff and services at www.angell.org/emergency.