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Healthy Paws: Pets and Halloween

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We’re taking a break from our series on pet foods and label interpretation to talk about something a bit more exciting — Halloween!  Just like Fourth of July and other holidays, Halloween can be a bit stressful for pets.  

Here are a few tips to help keep your four-legged friends safe and sound:  

  • First and foremost, guard that candy!  Chocolate (especially dark and baking varieties) can be toxic to dogs, since they don’t metabolize the caffeine and theobromine in it as well as we do).  You should contact your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center if your pet has ingested anything potentially dangerous.
  • All those fun little Halloween toys and trinkets can be tempting to both dogs and cats, and could pose a risk for gastrointestinal obstruction (or minimally GI upset/irritation) so be sure that these are not left anywhere that they can reach them.  
  • A constantly ringing doorbell can be quite stressful for both dogs and cats (not to mention all the scary costumes!).  There is also the risk of a pet escaping out the front door with all the opening and closing.  We recommend keeping all but the most bomb-proof pets away from the front door during the peak of trick-or-treating hours.  
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a yard, even if fenced, during trick-or-treating — all the commotion and children in costume could be enough to send them running.  
  • Be sure your pet’s collar and nametag are on — if he/she were to escape this provides a valuable means of ensuring they are returned safely home.  
  • If you are planning to take your pet trick-or-treating, be sure he is comfortable around children, even those in costume.  Even the friendliest of dogs may be thrown-off by a giant Superhero running by.  
  • While it might be tempting to dress the cat up as a pumpkin or the dog as a pirate, keep in mind your pet’s individual demeanor when planning his or her costume.  Some may be best left out of the costume contest if they are stressed or uncomfortable while in costume.  If your pet does tolerate (or even enjoy) getting dressed up for the fun, be sure there are no small pieces of the costume that might be easily ingested, and that the costume fits properly and does not restrict movement in any way.
  • Be sure to keep cords and electrical wires related to decorations out of reach of pets.  Cats and kittens especially love to chew on wires and cords.

Join us this coming Sunday, Oct. 25, from 3-5 p.m. at the James Hunter Park (aka Clarendon Dog Park – 1299 N. Herndon Street) as we celebrate Howl-O-Ween with our furry friends.  There will be a bounce house for the two-legged kids, a pet photo booth (sponsored by Canine Performance), costume contests and great prizes for the four-legged kids (Best Small Dog / Best Big Dog / Scariest / Most Realistic), as well as plenty of sweets for the whole family. 

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