We LOVE Halloween — delicious candy, fun costumes, and celebrations with friends. Not all pets feel the same way, however. In the time leading up to Halloween, take a few minutes to plan how you’ll handle the day (and the weekend) to minimize stress and risk to your furry family members in NYC.
1. Pet Costumes — we can certainly appreciate a good pet costume (see the Uptown Vets Facebook page to enter your pets in our annual contest!), but they should be used with caution. Not all pets are comfortable wearing them. If this applies to your dog or cat, it’s probably best to skip the outfit. Make sure any you do use fit properly, don’t have any pieces that your pet may ingest, and are only used when you can directly supervise your pet. Never leave a pet in a costume unattended!
2. Human Costumes — some costumes are similar to normal clothing, but some may significantly change the way we look, or appear to move (think of a child in a spider costume, or a big box on a person), or even the way we sound (e.g. crinkly pieces and funny shoes). All these changes can be scary for a dog (and cats!). Just imagine if you lived in a world and suddenly all of its inhabitants were replace by a strange assortment of oddly shaped monsters! Plan to walk your dog well before prime costume time. This is especially true for any pets who already have anxiety about new people, places, or things.
(If your pet suffers severe anxiety, please consider bringing him or her in for us to discuss anti-anxiety medications that may be helpful. We may need to do a trial run a few days early to make sure your pet does well on any medications, so be sure to make your appointment well in advance of Halloween, or other stressful events.)
3. Parties — if you are planning to host a party, create a pet “safe space” where Fido and Fluffy can escape, if needed. A quiet room or corner, with favorite toys or treats, and a warning for guests to leave stressed pets alone in this area will help your pets interact with guests when they are comfortable. Make sure cats have high up places to go, where they can observe the action without feeling threatened. Make sure any human treats are well out of your pets’ reach, too!
If you’re going out for the night, make sure your pet has a safe, comfortable place to spend the evening. Consider leaving the TV or a radio on with conversation to help mask unusual noises from neighboring homes and the street.
4. Candy — toxic ingestion of food and candy is common around any holiday, especially Halloween. Remember that dogs cannot eat chocolate, raisins (even one raisin can be deadly!), grapes, coffee, or sugar free gums and candies. Cats should not eat most of the same things, and are also at risk of ingesting flowers and plants that may be toxic. Marijuana and other drugs and human medications can be deadly to pets. If your pet has ingested any of the above, please call ASPCA Poison Control immediately (they will inform you if a trip to the vet is necessary, and tell you what to do in the first few minutes at home), and then contact us at Uptown Vets, or the closest emergency veterinary service.
Halloween falls on a Friday this year, so be sure to plan ahead for the full weekend. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us, and don’t forget to enter our Halloween costume contest!