Important Fall and Halloween Pet Safety Tips for Families in Boston, MA

The fall season can be a welcome change for many people and their pets, but it does come with its share of risks for our cherished dogs and cats–especially those that are more inquisitive! Still, we want all pets to be safe, which is why we would like to provide you with some helpful fall and Halloween pet safety reminders to consider as the season progresses. At Back Bay Veterinary Clinic, we’re dedicated to supporting people and their pets however we can–especially long after they’ve left our clinic! Consult our tips below to make your pet’s environment as safe as possible.

Should you have any more questions or concerns to address, give us a call at (617) 247-2273.

Two dogs dressed up for Halloween

Seasonal Safety Risks for Dogs and Cats

Here are some of the more common dangers associated with the autumn season.

Changing Weather

Fall starts out mild enough, but this can change quickly, with strong winds and driving rain creating a blustery, inhospitable environment for pets and their people, too. While most dogs and cats are protected by a fur coat, they can still be at risk for hypothermia if they are outside in the cold and damp for too long.

If your pet has to be outdoors for any reason, make sure they have a dry, sturdy shelter that offers adequate protection from the elements. That includes clean soft bedding and enough fresh water and food to meet your pet’s needs. Still, we would recommend keeping your pet indoors with you, where they’re likely to be much happier (and you’ll be 100% certain they’re comfortable and safe).

Signs of Hypothermia in Pets

When you bring in your pet from outside, be sure to dry off their coat and paws if it’s been raining or snowing. If they persist in shivering and appear lethargic, disoriented, and not very responsive, they could be experiencing hypothermia. Call us right away if you notice any of these signs.

Use Antifreeze Responsibly

To get your car ready for winter, you will need to replenish its antifreeze supply. Antifreeze can be extremely dangerous for animals if ingested, and its exceedingly sweet scent can be quite attractive. Check your garage and driveway for spills, and clean them up immediately if you find them. Make sure antifreeze containers are tightly sealed, and store them in a secure place, such as a cabinet or high shelf that is far out of your pet’s reach.

Halloween Safety for Dogs and Cats

Make your pet’s safety a priority this Halloween, as there are quite a few dangers lurking!

Sweet Treats

One of the less than pleasant hallmarks of having a pet is their tendency to eat things they shouldn’t. During Halloween, this is compounded by the presence of candy and other sweets associated with the holiday. While some treats might give your pet an upset stomach at the very worst, others can be more harmful. Be extra careful about where you keep the sweets and always keep a watchful eye on your pet to ensure that they don’t try to sneak a bite!

  • Hard candy – Along with being a choking hazard, hard candies might contain xylitol, a very dangerous artificial sweetener.
  • Chocolate – The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is, but any chocolate should be kept off limits when your pet is concerned. Chocolate can raise your pet’s heart rate and blood pressure and even cause muscle tremors.
  • Xylitol – Xylitol is found in many different treats, from candy to muffins and cookies. If ingested, it can cause anemia and other issues, and it may even be deadly.
  • Grapes and raisins – Ingesting grapes/raisins can put your pet at risk for kidney failure, and this can be fatal.

Other Choking Hazards

Along with candies themselves being a choking hazard, their wrappers and sticks can also be very harmful. In addition to choking, they can lodge in the stomach or intestines, causing a blockage, and they may cause internal damage as well. Dispose of all candy wrappers, sticks, and other components right away.

Be Careful with These Halloween Decorations

In some ways, having a pet can be like having a toddler in the house. There are all sorts of things they can get into that could be harmful to their safety. Before you decorate, remember that these items can be risky for dogs and cats and should be used with caution (or not at all):

  • Candles – An open flame is always a risk, but with pets in the home, this risk does increase considerably. Look into getting artificial candles instead, which provide the same ambiance without the potential for danger.
  • Strands of twinkle lights – Who doesn’t love the look of twinkle lights? Unfortunately, if they are kept where your pet can reach the electrical cords, they can quickly become a problem. In addition to getting snagged on the cords, some pets might be tempted to chew on them.
  • Essential oils and potpourri – The right scents can give any home that cozy autumnal ambiance, but potpourris and oils can be toxic when ingested or even inhaled. Be careful how you use these, and make sure they’re placed out of your pet’s reach.
  • Fake spiderweb – Does your pet have a knack for snacking on things that aren’t edible? Fake spiderweb might be one of those things, and it can cause choking and intestinal obstruction. Another problem with this type of decoration is that, if used outside, it can become a hazard for birds, bats, and other wildlife.
  • Small plastic pieces – Small items such as window decals and spider rings (for fake spiderweb) are another hazard for pets if swallowed.

Trick-or-Treaters, Pranks, and Escapes

The frequent opening and closing of your front door to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters can make for an inviting escape attempt for your pet. If necessary, keep them in another room with fresh water, a favorite toy, and some treats during this time, or have a friend or family member watch over them.

Lots of dogs and cats can get lost during Halloween, so keeping them indoors and in a secure environment is important. Further, you we recommend microchipping your pet, as this provides them with permanent ID and gives them a better chance of being reunited with you if they do get lost.

Another danger for pets is being the target of pranks. Black cats are especially at risk for this, so always make sure your four-legged family member is safe indoors with you.