Animal Tales: How do I keep my pet calm, safe on Halloween?

Question: Halloween is coming up. What should I know about keeping my pets safe?

Answer: Celebrations before, during and after the popular Halloween holiday can be dangerous and frightening for companion animals. The Whatcom Humane Society recommends pet owners take some basic precautions to keep their pets safe during this busy time.

• Keep pets safely inside away from trick or treaters or other Halloween parties or activities. Put your pet in an enclosed room with the radio or television left on and a favorite toy or treat. This will help lower stress levels in your companion animal and give you peace of mind that your pet won’t “door dart” during the evening.

• Keep candy away from your pet. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many different candies, also can cause problems. If your pet has ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately.

• Don’t bring the family dog along for trick or treating or to rowdy Halloween parties. Costumes, lights and loud, strange noises can be confusing to dogs and they may become scared, agitated and/or difficult to handle.

• Carved pumpkins look great – but keep your pets away from lit pumpkins. Pets can easily knock over a pumpkin, causing a fire hazard. Curious cats, kittens and small animals are especially at risk of getting burned by candle flames.

• If you dress up your pet in a Halloween costume, make sure the costume does not constrict the animal’s ability to move, hear, breathe or vocalize. Don’t leave costumes on unattended pets, as they can get tangled and injured.

• Cats and other animals often are targets of cruelty during the days before and after Halloween. Cat owners, especially those with black or white cats, should be extra careful during the Halloween season.

• Always make sure your pet is wearing current identification – it’s their ticket home if lost. A sturdy collar, id tag, license and/or a microchip (a permanent form of identification) can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.