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Protect Pets This Halloween With These Five Tips

A Sarasota veterinarian shares some safety tips for our fur babies.

By Kim Doleatto October 29, 2021

There’s lots of safety talk for kids around Halloween—but thanks to the presence of chocolate and other sweet treats, pets are also faced with a set of increased risks. We spoke to Dr. Charlotte Sherrell, a veterinarian at the VCA Lockwood Ridge Animal Hospital in Sarasota, and asked for tips for making sure our furry best friends have a safe holiday. Here's what she said.

Avoid gums, raisins, candy, chocolate and raw pumpkin

The biggest risk for pets is candy ingestion. Chocolate, specifically dark, is toxic to pets, but raisins and xylitol, a sugar-substitute are also dangerous. 

“You’ll find xylitol in sugar-free candy, but it's also in a lot of other things now. And even just one piece of candy or gum with it can cause problems,” says Sherrell. “Symptoms often include vomiting or the pet owner describing the pet as just not 'with it.'”

“Raisins can be toxic because grapes are an issue for pets," she continues. "We’re not really sure why, but even just one grape can lead to kidney issues in dogs.”

And guard your pumpkin jack 'o' lantern–dogs can end up with an upset stomach if they bite a chunk out of it. 

The good news: with early detection and medical attention, pets who steal one of these treats "most often make a full recovery," Sherrell says.

Keep pets away from wires and electrical props

Halloween props and electrical devices can injure pets that bite or chew on the wires, leading to burns on the tongue, gums and even  fluid accumulation in the lungs. Make sure to cover or hide wires and outlets.

Stay away live candles 

What’s a jack-o’-lantern without a candle? Just be sure to exercise caution with live candles—or go with the battery-operated kind. Cat and dog fur can catch fire if they brush up against an open flame. 

Keep candy wrappers and bags out of reach

Candy bags can cause curious pets to suffocate if they get their heads stuck inside. Dispose of candy wrappers and bags as soon as you open them.

Watch out for trick-or-treaters and open doors

Dogs and cats can get spooked by the doorbell and trick-or-treaters—and they can also sneak outside through an open door and get lost. If your pet is, ahem, adventure-prone, it may be a good idea to isolate them in a quiet area of the house during peak trick-or-treating hours.

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