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Keep Pets From Halloween Fright
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Halloween festivities designed to provide fun for children can be scary events for pets.
Dr. Cory Langston, service chief for the community practice at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said Halloween activities can make otherwise mild-mannered dogs turn aggressive. When making a to-do list of Halloween preparations, don't forget to make allowances for pets.
"Dogs are easily agitated by changing circumstances," Langston said. "Some are simply frightened, but others become aggressive in certain situations."
Pet owners should know their pet's disposition and how they will react to activities Halloween is likely to bring. Langston said cats are much more aloof and not as likely to get agitated. Easily agitated dogs should be kept in back rooms, or even boarded overnight in extreme cases.
"Owners should know how their dog handles new things," Langston said. "While some dogs may respond calmly to visitors at the door, multiple visits by trick-or-treaters can have an additive effect. The constant ringing of the doorbell and the increased activity may affect dogs differently."
Just as important as ensuring that the dog is not frightened by the commotion is making sure cats and dogs are safe from pranksters. Halloween brings out the worst in some youth, and Langston said this is another reason to keep pets locked away for the night.
"Cats have been the brunt of many a cruel joke, so keep them indoors as well," Langston said.
Some owners like to take their dogs with them while escorting the kids trick-or-treating or even dress them up for the occasion. Langston said this is OK if the dog is calm and well-mannered and has done this before. Always follow leash laws and keep dogs restrained.
Once the kids have brought their loot home, dog owners have another consideration. Dogs like sweets and may try to eat the candy. While too much candy just gives dogs an upset stomach, just like it does children, too much chocolate can be toxic.
"Most dogs have to eat a lot of chocolate before it gets dangerous, but it is more of a problem with small dogs who eat a lot of it, particularly baker's chocolate," Langston said. "Symptoms of poisoning include seizures and an irregular heartbeat."
Depending on the youth and playfulness of dogs and cats, keep Halloween decorations out of their reach. Candles, especially, are dangerous as these can be knocked over and cause fires.
Contact: Dr. Cory Langston, (662) 325-1265