Eleven ways to Ensure Halloween Safety for your Dogs and Cats Many of us enjoy Halloween, whether we are kids yelling, "Trick or Treat"  for candy or adults dressing up. While we are planning the festivities, we must look out for the safety of our pets, too.  Keep reading for a list of ways to protect your pets. First, be sure you always have the closest emergency veterinary clinic's address and telephone number  handy. Keep both veterinarians' and poison control numbers (in references below) in your telephone contacts. (Take time to save your primary and emergency vet numbers in your telephone now.) For the benefit of your family, post the life-saving information in a conspicuous place.  The call incurs a charge, but it might save your pet's life. First aid training is helpful in these situations. * Candy & Gum ? No animal should eat sugar. The primary ingredient in candy can affect digestive health, cause tooth decay and obesity, and lead to diabetes. Many candies and sugar-free gums are made with Xylitol, which can be deadly to dogs and cats. * Xylitol ? This artificial sweetener can quickly kill both dogs and cats, so if you suspect the pet consumed Xylitol, contact your vet immediately. This naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruit, vegetables and mushrooms is available as granulated powder for cooking and baking as well as in candies or gum. So look carefully at the ingredients in treats, cookies and baked goods to keep your pets safe. If you are not sure of the ingredients, do not share the snack with your pets. Xylitol can cause liver failure and death. I knew of a dog that was otherwise healthy and died within 30 minutes of sneaking gum from the owner's purse. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning include lethargy and loss of coordination as a result of lowered sugar levels. More dramatic signs are seizures, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, or widespread bleeding in the stomach, intestines, or abdomen. A dog's gums might show dark specks or splotches as bleeding spreads. * Chocolate and caffeine ? These favorites, even in the smallest amounts, can cause illness and death in pets. The symptoms of consuming these toxic treats are dramatic and require a veterinarian's immediate testing and intervention. Pets can die within 24 hours of eating chocolate or caffeine. Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, muscle tremors, and seizures, as well as hyperactivity, discomfort, and excessive thirst and urination. Chocolate and caffeine can also damage the heart and nervous systems. Baking chocolate and dark chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolate, but keep all chocolate from cats and dogs. * Raisins ?  Grapes and raisins are toxic to pets and can cause kidney failure. Be on the lookout for candy and baked goods containing raisins and boxes of raisins. *Alcohol ? Much like any poisonous substance, alcohol can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  The central nervous system is affected and can cause difficulty breathing, tremors, interfere with coordination, altered blood chemistry, coma and even death. Some people find an intoxicated pet funny, but alcohol can resultin devastating consequences. * Tobacco and marijuana ? These products can affect pets' nervous systems and lead to death. * Costumes ? Many pet owners enjoy dressing their dogs and cats in costumes, especially for Halloween. If your pet doesn't mind wearing the costume, ensure that the attire does not constrict movement. The pet should be able to hear and breathe normally, eat and bark or meow. If the pet seems panic, suffer allergies, or show abnormal behavior, remove the costume. A decorative collar, harness or bandana might be the best option. Be sure to let your dog or cat try the costume and grow accustomed to the garb before the hectic holiday. *Decorations ? If you have pets, you know that your home's decor is often dictated by wagging tails or leaping cats. During this holiday season, consider battery-powered candles. Pets can burn themselves or cause a fire with traditional candles. Monitor your pets around decorative spider webs, rubber rats and other fun holiday traditions. String can cause digestive problems if ingested, especially if you don't know what happened and the pet seems to be in pain. This can result in severe pain, death, or a dangerous and expensive emergency surgery. * Door bell ? A ringing door bell and the squeals of excited children can torment a pet. Dogs often want to be involved in family activities, and cats get spooked. Both have raced through front doors to escape noise and hysteria. Secure pets in a room far from outside doors. Turning on a radio or television in the room can buffer trick-or-treaters or guests at a Halloween party. You do not want to stress pets more by making them feel trapped. * Children and guests ? Costumed children can scare unsuspecting dogs and cats. Protect the kids and guests from bites and scratches by putting your pets safely behind closed doors. * Outdoors ? Not everyone who goes out on Halloween has good intentions. Some cause mischief. Others tease, hurt, steal or kill pets on Halloween night. So keep your pets inside and bring outdoor pets, especially black cats, inside several days before Halloween and keep them inside for a few days after the holiday. If your pets don't like staying inside, consider putting them in a barn or garage and check on your pets often. * Identification ? Be sure you take time to check and update tags and microchips or GPS trackers. If your furry family member is scared and bolts outside, you want to give it every opportunity return safely. Provide a way for the person who finds your pet to get it home safely. We are committed to caring for your pets, so call us to schedule regular or holiday visits. RESOURCES: www.caninejournal.com/dogs-and-marijuana/? www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/poison-control-hotlines-to-contact-if-you-suspect-pet-poisoning/? ASPCA Poison Control phone number (888)426-4435 Pet Poison Helpline (800)213-6680 By Beth Crosby

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