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Halloween Can Be a Scary Holiday ... for Pets

Thursday, October 9, 2008 General News J E 4
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SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct. 9 Ghosts and goblins walk thestreets, approaching homes collecting treats. The American Veterinary MedicalAssociation (AVMA) cautions people about keeping their pets safe andpreventing dog bite injuries this Halloween. http://www.avma.org.

While some dogs may understand that costumes and excited children are allpart of the holiday fun, many dogs are fearful of common Halloween activities.This creates an increased potential for dog bites.

"Dogs believe they are the guardians of their homes, and they can feelthreatened if a stranger enters their space," explains Dr. James O. Cook,president of the AVMA. "If your dog is apprehensive in these situations, youneed to be sensitive to that and make preparations before Halloween to keepyour dog -- and all the little neighborhood ghosts and goblins-safe."

Dr. Cook explains that costumes can be very confusing for dogs and thiscan cause them to react in ways that they might not otherwise. For example,some dogs will bark in alarm or show signs of aggression even when an owner orfriend puts on a mask or costume.

"What's important is that you be responsive to your dog and prepare aheadof time for the holiday," he says. "If your dog gets nervous when thedoorbell rings, put the dog in a place where it will feel safe. This could beinside a crate with a favorite toy or treat, or inside a familiar room withthe door closed. This will make the dog feel safer and calmer."

"If your dog appears to be excessively stressed, look to your veterinarianfor help," Dr. Cook adds.

Dog bite injuries and stress are not the only hazards for dogs and theirowners on Halloween; candy is another common Halloween problem. Chocolate ispoisonous to dogs, and so is xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in manychewing gums. Make sure you store Halloween candy where your dog cannot reachit, because most pets will eat it if given the opportunity.

"Children tend to want to share their treats with their pets, and the dogis all too happy to oblige," Dr. Cook explains. "Warn your childrenbeforehand that table scraps are unhealthy for pets, and that candy can bedeadly."

For more information, visit http://www.avma.org.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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