Keep pets from being spooked

Halloween is always one of the most
enjoyable holidays of the year for families: big on drama, atmosphere and fun.
It’s undoubtedly big on creativity — how many Twilight characters will we see
on the streets of Grand Cayman this year — and also big on bonding — mum gets
to play Morticia to dad’s Gomez. 

But it can be a ghoulish nightmare
for pets.

This Halloween, whether you’ll be
trick-or-treating or dispensing truckfuls of Halloween candy, here’s some
timely advice from Cayman’s veterinarians on how to keep pets safe and relaxed
on the run up and beyond the witching hours.

Pets like dogs, cats and even
rodents have more acute hearing than humans, so noisy revellers visiting your
home throughout the evening as well as the occasional firecracker will have
them cowering and anxious. Pets’ heightened sense of smell will also be working
overtime with the steady and unremitting stream of visitors beating a path to
your door. So what can owners do to avoid Halloween horror stories of lost and
maimed pets?

Candies can kill

Dr. Lana Watler is a veterinarian
at Cayman Animal Hospital on Crewe Road, with business partner Dr. Colin
Manson.

Dr. Watler said: “While many of us
in Cayman enjoy the costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, and perhaps
fireworks, our furry and feathered family members too often find the disruptions
disturbing — and sometimes dangerous.”

In her opinion, “The biggest
problems with Halloween are frightened pets and poisoned pets. With the
increase in activity, cats and dogs get nervous and some will escape if they
can – increasing the risk of being injured by a car, another animal or lost.”

In addition, “all those costumed
trick-or-treaters can trigger territorial instincts or fear-responses in some
dogs, who may then become a bite risk,” Dr. Watler added.

She suggests keeping pets out of
harm’s way by confining them safely for the evening in a crate or a quiet room
far from the front door or any festivities.

“Another major risk to pets is
eating candy, candy wrappers, decorations that can potentially cause serious
gastroenteritis or even intestinal obstruction,” she said.

“Chocolate is of particular concern
as large amounts can be toxic to dogs.”

The veterinarian also cautioned
owners about the extent to which they should actively involve pets. “Some
people put costumes on their dogs, and that’s safe enough and very cute if you
use common sense, but be sure the costume is comfortable, cool, non-restrictive,
and inedible and doesn’t involve anything that could be hazardous, such as dye
or paint.”

Other seemingly innocuous but
potentially deadly items are Jack-o-lanterns and electrical Halloween
decorations. Not only do such props pose a fire hazard to humans if they are
not sited with care — away from flammable materials and well out of the reach
of curious — they can be a fatal attraction to free-roaming pets. More
inquisitive animals — drawn to the pumpkin head’s strangeness and flickering lights
— may end up badly singeing themselves.

Dr. Brenda Bush has
run Island Veterinary Services for 16 years. The clinic’s small animal’s
caseload is shared with Dr. Elisabeth Broussard. Both Dr. Bush and Dr. Broussard
have horror stories of family pets hit by cars after they have escaped from
their homes when they were frightened by loud noises or strangers coming to the
door. The clinic, now based on Printers Way, George Town, has seen countless
injuries and fatalities caused by cats and dogs getting “spooked” by Halloween
revellers. Dr. Bush urges owners to “make sure pets have collars with IDs, in
case they get frightened and escape.”

LOCALpetSTORY

Make sure your family pets are kept safe and secure on 31 October.
Photo: File