Have a pet-friendly Howl-ween

By Bonnie Caprara
BerkleyLive Editor

An early waxing moon won’t be much to bark at on Halloween, but the barrage of trick-or-treaters can turn dogs (and cats) into wild beasts or have them hiding in fear.

“The biggest thing is all the activity at the front door,” says Dr. Theresa Bismack, a veterinarian at the Berkley Animal Clinic. “If you have a pet that’s anxious, you may want to sit out in the driveway to greet the trick-or-treaters.”

If you prefer waiting for the little ghosts and goblins in the comfort of your own home, Dr. Bismack suggests putting an anxious or overly-excitable pet in a locked room with a stereo or TV to mask all the noises at the front door. She also suggests a food puzzle, like a Kong, and stuffing it with peanut butter and kibble to keep dogs distracted while they’re isolated.

“If you introduce that toy a week before, that can help distract them from all the activity at the front door by the time trick-or-treaters start coming by,” Dr. Bismack says.

In some cases, an anti-anxiety medication may be appropriate. Dr. Bismack says to consult with your veterinarian first.

For people who take their pets with the kids trick-or-treating, Dr. Bismack suggests having them wear a reflective vest so drivers and passer-bys can see them. For those who dress their pets in costume, she says, “Make sure no one drops a cigarette by them. Some costumes are flammable. And make sure they’re not licking or chewing their costume. Some pets need to build a tolerance for wearing something. Be sure to give them positive reward treats.”

Dr. Bismack also advises parents to have their kids exercise caution and control around pets while going door to door.

“Screaming and running is the worst thing to do; it triggers their chase response,” Dr. Bismack says. “If there’s a pet in the house, you don’t want kids to be reaching through the door. Ask the person to hand the candy to the kids. And always ask if it’s OK to pet a dog.”

Dr. Bismack says the biggest safety threat to pets on and after Halloween is the candy bowl.

“Make sure, especially with dogs, that you don’t leave candy out in the open,” Dr. Bismack says. “Lock the candy in a cupboard with a child-proof lock. Under the bed is easy pickings. They won’t eat just one; they’ll eat the whole thing.Candy alone with its high sugar and fat contents can lead to gastrointestinal problems, and chocolate can be a stimulant. It has a caffeine-like product that dogs can’t break down. They can get pretty sick.”

Berkley Animal Clinic, 3996 W. 12 Mile Rd.; 248-545-4933

Cat photos courtesy of New Beginnings Animal Rescue

Author: Guy Williams


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