Halloween: Danger! Beware!

Veterinary doctor, Lucie Hénault, talks about the risks to your dog or cat at Halloween and how to avoid them.

Halloween: Danger! Beware!

We all know that Halloween is for kids... parents… the whole family! Everyone prepares weeks in advance, buying decorations, candy and costumes. Carving the pumpkin is a big deal. And since your dog or cat is a full-fledged member of the family, you want to make sure they are part of it all as well. Maybe your kids even want you to get a costume for your pet!

And then the big day arrives. Excitement is in the air. By late afternoon, the children come home, and they’ve probably already started celebrating at school or at daycare. Your pet feels all this excitement. And while they love being part of everything, it can also be confusing. Then, in an hour or two, the doorbell starts ringing, the door opens and closes constantly. Trick or treaters in costume are at the door. Or perhaps your pet goes out trick or treating with your children. They return home with bags full of candy. They may dump some or all of the contents out on the kitchen table, their bed, or even the floor.

Remember: your dog or cat is not human. No one prepared them for all this hoopla. We talked about the risks associated with Halloween with Dr. Lucie Henault, veterinarian at du Montréal’s  Nord and Le Gardeur clinics: “There are a lot of risks,” says Dr. Henault, “In all the excitement, a dog will simply greedily snap up everything, paper wrappers and all! This, of course, results in a number of problems. Chocolate is toxic to dogs; its harmful to their pancreas because of the fat… not to mention all the non food substances that are strewn around after a night Halloween partying. For example, wrapped candy can block the intestine.”

We simply can’t ignore the dangers posed by Halloween. According to Dr. Hénault, dog or cat owners can and must minimize the very real risks of this seemingly innocuous annual celebration. “With the door constantly opening and closing,” says Dr. Hénault, “revealing terrifying costumes… this can be frightening for your pet. They may then react in ways you didn’t expect. If your cat never goes out and he sees scary stuff coming to the door again and again… the door that keeps opening... well, your cat might try to flee next time the door is opened. Every year I get calls from people who’ve lost their cat the day after Halloween,” continues Dr. Hénault. “It’s just so much simpler to keep them in a room or to even have them stay elsewhere while Halloween is going on.” In any event, a Halloween party can also be very unappealing. Best to avoid that.

Here are some FAQs and Dr. Hénault’s answers:

Should a dog go out trick or treating with kids?

I don’t advise it all. There are so many people out and about on the streets and of course, most are wearing disguises. Children run and yell. It’s not the right time to walk your dog. Even if your dog is not aggressive, there’s a real risk of biting.

What do you think of muzzles that make a dog look rabid?

It’s ridiculous. The dog is, effectively, sending out a message to other animals: “I am mad!” It’s provocative for no reason and I find it appalling. A dog should never wear one of these types of muzzles.

Should dogs wear costumes?

I don’t have anything against it, but choose wisely. And don’t forget that this sends a signal to your dog that your dog can celebrate as well. This will make your dog excitable and you have to be ready to deal with that.

What are the risks for cats at Halloween?

Apart from the desire to escape from the house, there is another very real risk to cats: foreign inedible objects. They can swallow or choke on candy wrappers, plastic bags or small parts that end up lying around. This is also a problem during the Christmas season.

You have more questions?

Do not hesitate to contact the nearest Passionimo veterinary clinic.