Wag'N, the pet emergency management organization, recommends that pet parents affected by Hurricane Sandy, and still wishing to partake in this years trick or treating, avoid involving their pets in this year's Halloween outdoor festivities. Contaminated flood waters, downed power lines posing electrocution risks, roaming displaced wildlife and wreckage debris are enough to pose a threat to both humans and their furry companions. For those that have lost power and must manage using candles, exposed open flames alone pose a serious threat to their homes without adding extra spooky decorations. In terms of outdoor participation, the organization reminds dog owners that dogs combine observation with mental map-making as well as smell and hearing to get their bearings and retrace their steps. By memorizing landmarks such as trees, fields, previous markings or even a neighbor's house. Since some or all of these landmarks may have been affected by the storm, it may become extremely hard for their dog to find its way home. Additionally, any standard plan to visit a local veterinarian should a pet emergency occur may be further hindered in areas affected by Sandy as veterinary clinics may themselves not yet be fully operational, one day after the end of this tragic event.
Wag'N, recommends that pet parents not immediately affected by Hurricane Sandy consider the following safety tips on this Halloween:
Remember that for pets, Halloween exerts a lot of strange, non-natural and abnormal behavior, attitudes, smells, food and clothing. As much fun as the holiday is, pet parents need to be mindful of certain hazards that may have a devastating effect on their pet’s health. Wag’N Enterprises encourages pet
parents to create a Halloween safety plan.
The safety plan should include extra precautions needed for protecting your family, trick-or-treaters, and the pets. Every year, hundreds of pets become frightened by noises and strangers and ran outdoors during the "trick or treating" activities. It is best for dogs to get a long walk during day light prior to zombies, Captain America, Ninjago, Bane, Monster High and Angry-Birds look-alikes start invading the streets.
Pets may be scared or spooked by the noise and strange looks of new oddly dressed strangers and may choose to bark aggressively, jump on, bite or bolt out the front door. All that while trying to defend or out of fear.
Wag’N cautions that open doors will provide for escape routes, children to scare and chase pets, as well as hazardous treats. Wag’N recommends pets are kept in an enclosed room away from the racket, crated, or in a dog pen hindering access to the home’s main entrance.
Whether the pet goes out or stays confined at home there will be many chances for it to run off or try too. All pets should wear up-to-date pet tags and be micro chipped before guests and/or trick-or-treaters start showing up. If for any reason the pet escapes and gets lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances the pet will be swiftly reunited with its family. Owners of black cats should consider keeping their cats inside starting one week prior to Halloween to protect them against people that may want to snatch them for strange practical jokes.
Trick or treating with dogs is not recommended for most pet parents. Some normally sociable pets may get spooked. Should the pet parents choose to dress up their pet, the costume needs to be fitted comfortably ensuring that the pet can see and breathe well. If the costume includes a face mask, there should be no lose hanging parts that may be ingested and areas near the snout and mouth need to allow for easy breathing and drinking.
Inside the home, dog tails can knock over candles. Keep candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations and ornaments out of reach of both pets and small children. Halloween lights can cause digestive upsets or electrocution if swallowed, while electrical cords can cause electrocution if chewed.
Children and adults in your household should be reminded of how dangerous candy and chocolate can be to pets. Bromamine, found in chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs. Leaving unsupervised pets with chew toys such as raw hides, bones, pig ears and greenies is not recommended as pets may choke on them and the lack of supervision may be deadly to the pet. Candies containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of Xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, leading to lack of coordination, seizures, low blood sugar and liver failure within hours. Xylitol is found in candy and gum. Other hazardous foods and items include tin foil, cellophane candy wrappers, meat strings, toothpicks, cookie dough, cooked bones and alcohol.
Once the trick-or-treaters are gone, pets can be rewarded with short walks, few treats and some TLC. Late night walkers must remain cautious of sneaky humans spooking pets and passersby as well as left-over-goodies on sidewalks.
Wag'N highly recommends pet parents keep important life saving phone numbers both in their cell phone registry and displayed on paper copy in a prominent well traveled area of the residence. Important numbers include their emergency veterinarian's phone number, the ASPCA Poison Control Center Number (888) 4264435 and the Regular Poison Control Number (800)222-1222.
Much like many other holidays, Wag’N reminds pet parents that human logic is not common pet sense!
Awareness and caution will keep tails wagging this holiday season.
For more information about Wag’N Pet Emergency Management, visit www.wagnpetsafety.com.