Purdue News

October 25, 2006

Purdue veterinarian: Keep pets safe during Halloween

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Halloween celebrations hold potential hazards for dogs and cats that can be avoided, says Lorraine Corriveau, wellness veterinarian at Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine.

"Cats are particularly at risk around Halloween," says Corriveau. "Over the years there have been reports of cats, especially black cats, being injured or tortured around that time of year."

Corriveau says to keep outdoor cats inside on the days surrounding Halloween, especially if they are black or dark colored. If the outdoor cat is difficult or impossible to keep indoors, consider boarding the pet during the Halloween holiday.

Other risks to pets at Halloween include:

• Dogs (and some cats) will help themselves to holiday candy if left within reach. Chewy candy and gums can potentially choke pets or cause intestinal obstructions. Foil wraps and popsicle or lollipop sticks also can become lodged in pets' throats or digestive tracts.

• Chocolate in particular is toxic to both dogs and cats. It takes only 8 ounces of milk chocolate (and only 1.5 ounce of unsweetened chocolate) to cause toxicity in a 10-pound dog. For cats, the toxic doses are even lower. If a pet consumes chocolate, contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

• Candles in jack-o'-lanterns and other decorative displays may attract curious pets and cause burns, or they may be knocked over by curious cats or wagging tails and create a fire hazard.

• Decorations, especially those that are stringy (such as fake cobwebs), can cause life threatening digestive conditions if ingested.

• Costumes may frighten many pets and cause them to behave strangely, such as with barking, trying to escape or even biting. Costumes on pets can be dangerous if they restrict normal movements or breathing or if they are secured with rubber bands that constrict. Most pets prefer to wear their own birthday suits for Halloween.

• Taking the dog along trick-or-treating also can be problematic because of costumes and the unusual noise level, which can frighten even the most social of dogs and result in unexpected behaviors. It's best to leave pets at home and to keep them secluded in a quiet, safe area of the home during the events of Halloween.

Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432, maggiemorris@purdue.edu

Source: Lorraine Corriveau, (765) 494-1107 and ask receptionist to page, corrivea@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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