Pets can be spooked during Halloween, but taking precautions can make the day fun for all, according to a Durham veterinarian.
“It’s imperative to keep candy away from dogs and cats,” said Alexa Gonzalez, a veterinarian at Park Veterinary Hospital and member of the N.C. Veterinary Medical Association.
Dark chocolate in particular is highly toxic to them, and can even make their hearts stop, Gonzalez said.
Other foods to keep from dogs and cats are raisins, grapes, avocado pits, macadamia nuts and any foods like peanut butter, baked goods and chewing gum that contain the sugar substitute xylitol, which can cause liver damage, low blood sugar, and seizures.
Gonzalez said it’s important not to leave candy lying around after Halloween.
“Sometimes we see pets come in a week or two after Halloween when they’ve eaten chocolate and the owners had forgotten to put away the candy,” she said.
During trick-or-treating, dogs and cats should be secured so they don’t lunge at visitors or run away when the door is open, she said.
“Some pets get very anxious with a lot of new people coming to the house. There are doorbells ringing, noise, costumes, and kids screaming.”
In some cases, vets prescribe medications to keep dogs calm during Halloween, she said.
Isolating the pet in another room sometimes works, but in other cases it creates anxiety for the animal, according to Gonzalez. Since each animal is different, it’s better to see how they react to being left alone and act accordingly.
Dressing dogs and cats in Halloween costumes is popular, but some animals don’t like it, she said.
“If they’re not liking it and become anxious, maybe it’s not best for them,” she said. “But as long as they tolerate it, I think there’s no problem.”
Taking your dog along as you trick-or-treat also depends on the dog’s temperament.
“If your dog is easygoing and good around lots of people and doesn’t scare easily, that would be a reasonable thing to do,” according to Gonzalez. “I’m a proponent of stimulating your dog and getting them exercise, so I don’t think that would be a problem.”