How to keep your pets safe on the scariest night of the year

If someone were to try to invent a holiday that would spook our pets as much as possible, Halloween would be it!

Imagine how hard it can be on your dog to have that bell ringing — with monsters at the door, no less — all evening.

For my pups — Maci, my Shetland sheepdog, and Chance, my dachshund mix — and yours, it can turn from distressing to disastrous very quickly.

You might think you have all the bases covered in keeping your furry family members safe. Or you might think that your dog or kitty is so well behaved that you don’t have to worry.

But if you’re not very careful, even the most unflappable pet can get into trouble faster than you can say “boo.”

Running scared

While the Fourth of July ranks as the number one day for lost pets, Halloween follows closely.

Some get so scared out of their minds that they’ll make a run for it the first chance they get!

But that’s not the only thing that can turn the night of October 31 into a truly scary occasion. The biggest fright-night danger comes from those treats that you’ll be giving out or your own little goblins will be bringing home.

I’m sure you’ve heard about how toxic chocolate is for dogs — and the darker it is, the sicker it can make them.

But raisins are even more dangerous than that sweet treat. It doesn’t take much to make them seriously ill — so, if you suspect your pup has consumed any, your safest bet is to get him to your vet right away.

There’s another ingredient found in numerous candies and gums, however, that’s especially toxic to pets.

It’s the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can cause an immediate and deadly drop in a dog’s blood sugar. And unfortunately for pet parents, it’s being used in more and more of the treats and foods we might offer to them, such as peanut butter.

It doesn’t take a lot to deliver a lethal dose, either. If fact, if your dog does consume anything with xylitol in it, his life may depend on how quickly he gets veterinary care — even if that means finding an emergency clinic that’s open after hours.

Signs of xylitol poisoning include staggering, tremors, vomiting, and seizures. But even if you just think your dog has eaten anything containing it, don’t wait for such symptoms to appear.

Fortunately, cats are notoriously finicky eaters and don’t have much of a sweet tooth — but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely in the clear when it comes to accidental poisoning by these seasonal treats.

So, before your doorbell starts ringing tomorrow, here are a few tips to keep your furry companions safe:

  • If you normally give your dog some outdoor time in the yard, make sure he’s in before the trick-or-treaters come around.
  • Set up a “safe room” where your pup or kitty can stay during the peak witching hours. And if they’re used to being crated, that’s another option you might want to consider.
  • Make sure that your buddy or princess is wearing a collar with your contact information on it. But, as shelters know all too well, collars can fall off, which is why having a microchip (a small device popped right under the skin that will give your contact information when scanned) is the very best way to get your pal safely home again, should they be running scared. Chips are especially important for cats, who more often than not won’t tolerate a collar.

And finally, don’t torment your dog or cat by making them wear a costume. I know, there’s nothing more adorable than the dachshund “wiener” or the pirate kitty — but your pet’s just thinking that you’ve gone crazy!

“Beware the pets when handling the Halloween candy haul” Leanne Italie, October 23, 2017, Post Bulletin,