Is your family ready for the spookiest, scariest night of the year?  Halloween can be a fun time for the whole family, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind concerning your animals.  This week, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve, Wisconsin Pet Care will discuss the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of this holiday’s tricks and treats!


*Don’t feed your dog or cat candy.  Chocolate and some artificial sweeteners (more specifically, a chemical sweetener known as xylitol – which is commonly found in sugarless chewing gum, and has been shown to cause liver damage in even the smallest doses) are toxic to your pets.  The most common symptoms of chocolate consumption in dogs and cats are vomiting and diarrhea.  If these symptoms get worse, or you notice more critical symptoms (such as a rapid breathing), it is important to seek medical care for your pet immediately and/or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.


*Do take your pup for a walk before the trick or treat festivities begin.  Some dogs may be unphased by disguised characters walking around the neighborhood, but others can become uneasy with all of the strange sights and sounds.


*Don’t use actual candles in any pumpkins that your pet will be around.  Both cats and dogs have wagging tails and lots of fur that can easily be caught on fire.  There are alternatives to using real candles to set your jack-o-lanterns aglow, including pumpkin lights and flameless (battery operated) candles.


*Do remember to make sure your dog or cat’s identification tag is current.  We recently covered the topic of microchipping, and having an up-to-date nametag is important whether your pet has been microchipped or not.  With the doorbell constantly ringing (and the increased frequency of opening and closing the door), your four-legged friends can experience anxiety, which may make them more inclined than usual to bolt!


*Don’t dress your pets up in costume.  They may look adorable, but it can be uncomfortable for your dog or cat (most of the costumes found in stores restrict their movement).  However, do make sure that there are no small parts and pieces on your pet’s costume.  If you must dress Fido up as a clown, it is important to remember that “accessories” can easily become choking hazards.


*Do put your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle of the Halloween festivities, especially if you notice that they are getting agitated.  Dogs and cats that have not been raised in a home with kids may find this time of year particularly challenging as their surroundings may be a lot noisier than usual.


*Don’t forget the doggy treats!


Most importantly, DO have fun.  It’s Halloween, after all!  It’s a great occasion to spend time with the whole family.  Keeping these points in mind, you can be sure that your holiday is not only enjoyable, but safe for everyone.