“The dogs with the loudest bark are the ones that are most afraid." -- Norman Reedus

It’s nearing the end of 2017 and with that comes holidays, the first of which is Halloween. As parents we think of our children’s safety, but as pet owners we should also think of our pet’s safety. Keeping our pets safe can be tricky, but as long as they are safe it will end up being a treat for us all.

The main issue would be watching for your pet eating something it shouldn’t. At first, you would think candy is not safe for the animal and you would be right. Chocolates can be dangerous for both dogs and cats. Sugar-free candies can contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol. This sweetener can kill a pet within 48 hours. Besides candy, other things like glowsticks can be harmful for pets if they chew on them.

Many people like to dress their pets up for different seasons and Halloween is no exception. When dressing your little darling up you need to make sure the costume fits properly. Loose-fitting items can get the pet snagged on something, which could result in strangulation. Too tight-fitting can cut off circulation or restrict mobility. Never leave your pets unattended when they are in costume. Another issue with costumes is that the pet could chew on or eat the costume, which could be harmful for them.

If you like to put out jack-o'-lanterns each year, be cautious if you are using a real flame around your pet. These can easily be toppled over and start a fire. Another hazard is if your pet is wearing a costume and gets too close to the flame, it could be seriously injured.

If your pet is wary around strangers then a night where people are dressed in strange and scary costumes would not be a good night for them. Try and keep them well away from the front door if you are handing out candy. This does not mean leave them outside, as they may escape or bark constantly at people walking around. This is a safety tip for both you and the stranger at your home. A scared animal would be more likely to bite or attack the stranger. Give your pet a safe place to retreat during peak candy time. The increase in noises of children and the ringing of the doorbell can stress your pet out.

I am going to say again to not keep your pet outside during this time. People have been known to tease, injure and steal pets. Some pets have even been killed during this time of the year. Although there is a leash law for cats in Columbus, try to refrain from allowing your cats outside for a few weeks prior to Halloween, especially black cats. If your pet does get out, make sure that you previously put city tags or some other identifier so it can be returned to you quickly and safely. If you see anything suspicious, always contact the police.

Halloween is a fun day of the year and if we use a little smarts we can make it fun for our furry family members, too. So be safe and smart this Halloween season.

Columbus Animal Control Officer Shawn Flowers can be reached at sflowers@columbusne.us or 402-564-8839.

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