But here is some advice from past columns to make sure all creatures — pets and wildlife — get through the scary times.
- Avoid decorations with loops or closed circles. A foraging animal can inadvertently put its head through a loop or circle and choke itself.
- Avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts. Strings of lights can become snare traps for adult male deer, who get them caught in their antlers. Avoid hanging lights or decorations in areas where deer pass.
- Candy — and its wrapping — can also be a hazard for animals. Don’t leave candy out where wildlife may find it. Dispose of all candy wrappers properly.
- Carved pumpkins may be attractive to wildlife as food, so properly dispose of that jack-o’-lantern if you don’t want post-holiday trick-or-treaters visiting your yard.
- Be alert for nocturnal wildlife while trick-or-treating. Avoid cutting across lawns and through bushy areas to avoid accidental encounters with your wild neighbors. It gets dark early these days so drivers on Halloween night — and on any night — should be aware of wildlife that may be scared out of hiding by all the unusual nighttime activity.
- It’s a good idea to keep your pet away from all the action. If you don’t isolate your pet, he may run outside, either in fear or in pursuit of ghosts and ghouls.
- If you use real candles, keep an eye on them and your pets. It’s easy for pets to knock a candle over, setting a fire or burning themselves with the flame or hot wax. Any decorations that contain liquid should be closed off to prevent your pet from drinking it.
- We all know that chocolate can be deadly to dogs, but there are other foods that can make them ill or even kill them. Raisins might be a good sugar substitute for your little trickster, but they are not good for dogs. Neither are grapes. Even worse than chocolate is xylitol, a sweetener used in sugar-free gums, candies and toothpaste. The sweetener can cause the animal’s blood sugars to drop quickly and dangerously low. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is required.
- Few things, if any, are cuter than a pet in a Halloween costume, but remember that not all pets tolerate playing dress-up. Don’t force your pet into a costume unless you know the animal is OK with it. Make sure it fits properly. Overly large or small costumes can hamper an animal’s movements, and fabric can snarl causing your pet to strangle. Always supervise your costumed pet.
- If you normally walk your dog in the evening, consider going out a bit earlier than normal so you can avoid the trick-or-treat rush.
- If your pet enjoys interacting with the Halloween revelers, by all means, include him. You know your pet best, but make sure he is wearing a collar with an ID tag, just in case he gets out. Also be aware that some young children can be fearful of larger animals; keep your pet under your control.