October 5, 2016

Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity for two- and four-legged participants alike. It is also a time for concerns about safety. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, calls to veterinarians increase by 12 percent during Halloween. Among the greatest risks for pets is the ingestion of Halloween candy and decor.

Here are some simple tips that your customers can use to minimize the risks to their pets during All Hallows Eve.

Safe Storage
Dog owners should store all candy in a safe place. The location should be out of a dog’s reach as well as securely covered to prevent a cat from getting into it. For customers who have children of trick-or-treat age, recommend that they use two storage containers: one for candy to be distributed and the second for collected treats.

In addition, every child should be taught to not give any type of candy or toy to a pet.

Food Products to Avoid
Chocolate tops the list. Amounts as little as one ounce could sicken a 50-lb. dog. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than other types, but all chocolate should be avoided. Chocolate-covered raisins are even more hazardous because both ingredients are poisonous to dogs and cats.
Many health-conscious parents will offer sugar-free sweets or fruit products over the more traditional candy. While this can be better for children, it isn’t automatically safer for pets.

Xylitol, a sugar-free sweetener often used to sweeten candy, gum, mints and other food items, is acceptable for people, but not animals. To be on the safe side, advise your customers to keep their pets away from all sugar-free products.

Macadamia nuts are another potentially deadly food for pets. Accidental ingestion could cause vomiting, difficulty walking, tremors and lethargy.

Even foods that aren’t poisonous to pets could upset a dog or cat’s stomach if they rarely eat them. Unfamiliar foods could cause vomiting or diarrhea, which could make a pet miserable, not to mention the fun owners will have cleaning up the mess.

Other Dangers 
Dogs, and to a lesser extent cats, aren’t always picky eaters. If they smell something enticing, a mere candy wrapper won’t stop them from eating it. In fact, many dogs will consume the item, wrapper and all, with the possibility of dangerous consequences. Bowel obstructions requiring surgery, not to mention vomiting and diarrhea, can be caused from pets eating wrappers—another reason to keep these items properly stored.

As you know, many owners love to dress their pets up for Halloween. While this is humorous to humans, harmless to pets and profitable for retailers that sell costumes, you need to ensure that the costumes do not have any small parts a dog could chew, swallow or choke on. Remind your customers that their dogs should always be supervised when in a costume. Puppies in costume are most at risk, but older dogs could also chew their costumes to shreds with dangerous results if not constantly supervised.

Lastly, if a customer’s dog isn’t comfortable around lots of people and noises, she should limit her dog’s access to the full gamut of trick-or-treaters. Nothing ruins Halloween plans faster than a dog who terrorizes visiting children or who is so fearful that he is stressed for days or weeks afterwards. Dogs with these temperaments should be placed in quieter rooms away from the action. You could also refer your customers to a professional dog trainer who could help them handle these behavioral challenges.

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