All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Halloween Safety for Pets

Dear Marie: 
Last year, I met you in person at a pet-expo in Orange County. It was shortly before Halloween and you were discussing safety tips for pet owners to follow during the “trick-or-treat” season. You even had a pamphlet that outlined some general precautions. If at all possible, can you review these tips? I would certainly appreciate it as I am sure other pet owners will too. 

Dear Pamela, 
Thanks for a very seasonally appropriate question. Halloween is still a few of weeks away; but it is definitely time to start preparing and developing a game plan!

First of all, check to make sure that all your pets are wearing identification tags. If you've changed your phone number or address recently, immediately purchase new tags from your local pet supply store (they are made in a few  minutes while you wait) notify your county or city’s pet licensing department so that databases can be updated, and update your microchip company.  If your pet does not have a microchip - now is the time to get one.  Remember, when trick-or-treaters come knocking, there is a good chance that your pet may escape when the door is opened.

It is also a good time to bring your pet’s vaccinations up to date if they are overdue. A rabies vaccination is particularly important in case your pet is involved in a bite situation. Animals are usually frightened by the barrage of children in costumes paying visits to your home. It is usually best to put your pet in a closed, quiet bedroom with classical music playing, or at least in the garage until the last of the trick-or-treaters has called it a night.

If you are hosting a party yourself and you want your pet to be included (I don’t recommend this) give your pet a quick refresher course in “good manners.” For example, don’t let your dogs jump up on guests; teach your cats to stay off tables where food is being served, etc. You know what 
difficulties your own pet has in the etiquette department! Now is the time to correct those bad behaviors.

Don’t let your cats (and dogs) run loose. Small friendly pets are easy prey to people inclined to play cruel, Halloween pranks. Furthermore, during seasonal celebrations (which can begin several days before the actual holiday, there tends to be more vehicle traffic on otherwise quiet, residential streets. A pet who is not accustomed to cars and traffic can be injured or killed in the street. Again, I stress...keep your pets safely confined.

If you have children who are trick-or-treating, let them know that they must not give any of their goodies to dogs. Chocolate contains a substance which is absolutely toxic to dogs. Keep all candy bags well out of reach of your pets. You’ll be surprised how smart animals are when it comes to seeking out food they’re not supposed to have, so make sure your hiding place is completely pet-proof. I usually buy some special pet treats for my own dogs so that they won’t feel left out when everyone else has tasty goodies to eat.

If you plan on dressing your pet up, make sure the costume you choose is safe and comfortable. Additionally, if your pet is clearly unhappy wearing a costume, don't force him or her to tolerate this. Halloween is for people.  Pets really don't care if they dress up or not!  (Well, actually some pets prefer NOT to dress up!)

Sometimes, even the most responsible and prepared pet owners leave a loose end somewhere. Bearing this in mind, keep your veterinarian’s phone number, as well as the closest emergency pet clinic and animal shelter phone numbers on your refrigerator in case of emergency. Hopefully, you won’t need them, but you should still be prepared for anything.

I hope these tips will be useful to you, and other pet owners in making 
Halloween a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone. 

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