Halloween is indeed a scary time for pets and people alike. But the pets usually get the worst end of the deal. They don’t understand the creepy costumes, the brooms, vampire teeth, screaming trick or treaters, people pounding on doors, lit up pumpkins, flaming candles and firecrackers. The fur-balls don’t see this during the rest of the year and suddenly the entire world goes weird for them. They just don’t understand why their human buddies have suddenly lost their minds.
But they do like one part of this holiday and they really want to get at it–the treats. And it’s the treats that can prove deadly for them. Especially chocolate.
It’s toxic to both dogs and cats who are extremely sensitive to the caffeine-related substances in chocolate. The darker the candy, the more dangerous it is for your pet. A couple of M&M’s or a little Hershey’s kiss won’t hurt a small dog but four ounces of dark chocolate could cause seizures or kill a dog weighing as much as forty pounds.
It’s worse for dogs than cats because they are bigger moochers and are more likely to get into a stray bag of chocolate and eat the entire thing, wrappers, plastic and all. Cats don’t really like sweet candies or cookies and just one taste might satisfy them.
This is a sweetener used in many candies and it’s a real pet killer. Xylitol has become a staple in candy, cookies, and cakes and it’s popular because it prevents tooth decay. Most commonly, it can be found in sugar-free products and since it has a minimal effect on human blood sugar levels, it’s found in baking mixes, chocolates and in products manufactured for diabetics and dieters. Parents and neighbors, thinking it’s good for the kids, might give them treats impregnated with this sweetener in their treat bag. Although it might be good for the child, it can kill the pet. And it doesn’t take much to do the trick.
Keep the plastic candy bags, the wrappers, the chocolate and anything containing xylitol away from the fluffy guys. Watch out for the kids in cute Halloween costumes. They can spook the pets and the dog may panic and race outside escaping the sinister monster in the living room only to get hit by a car. If you put a costume on your pet, don’t leave him unattended and take the costume off as soon as you’ve gotten the photo.
Ritual Cat Sacrifices
There is some truth to the urban legend about cats being killed at Halloween. It might be an innocent idea to use a living black cat as part of a display or decoration, but the animal could get burned by a candle or choked by fake spider webs or rope. Or it may get tangled in ghostly fabric and strangle itself when it panics.
The ASPCA says that this is the season where blood rituals sometimes take place and black cats are often sacrificed or mutilated. If not available, sometimes white cats are used instead. Many animal shelters refuse to allow any cats to be adopted during this time of the year.
It might be a good idea to keep your cats close at hand during the weeks leading up to the witching season to lessen the chances that they might be kidnapped. Keep an eye on all your furry friends and have a safe Samhain.