Tricks and treats for a pet happy Halloween

Tricks and treats for a pet happy Halloween

Tricks and treats for a pet happy Halloween

At Barking Heads HQ we’re all looking forward to some spooktacular celebrations this Halloween – and of course we’ll be getting our pooches involved too! Halloween is infamous for lots of treats, costume changes and decorations, but it’s important to recognise the potential risks and dangers to our pets at this time.

Fancy dress - know your pet's warning signs

Let’s face it, we love getting dressed up at the best of times but Halloween holds a special place in our hearts. When else can you dress up like a pumpkin and still look cool as a cucumber?! Many of us love to get our pets involved too, and these days there are costumes for our dogs and cats wherever you turn in the shops. But it’s really important to consider how your pet may feel if they’re not used to wearing this type of clothing.

Although many pets may not seem to mind getting dressed up, to many it can be an unusual experience that’s scary and unnerving - and not in the 'watching a scary movie and hiding behind your cushions' kind of way. Unfortunately, many owners are often unaware of the signs that their pet is unhappy or uncomfortable with being dressed up. When choosing your pet’s outfit, their happiness and comfort should be top priority.

Top things to consider when dressing your pet:

  • Does the outfit pose any restrictions? Can your pet move, breathe, eat, drink, hear, go to the toilet as normal?
  • Do not rush. New experiences on the body such as head coverings can be very scary for us and for our pets. Be sure to introduce the items slowly, gradually for short periods of time giving them treats as positive reassurance. This way they can get used to the new item at their own pace
  • Be patient and pay extra attention to watch out for signs of your pet feeling uncomfortable, unhappy, worried or anxious. (ears & tails tell us a lot, so don’t have them covered!)
  • Make sure the garment does not pose any hazards such as tripping over, choking, chewing and swallowing
  • Overheating – certain dog breeds (brachycephalic/flat faced) and overweight pets are susceptible to overheating so the addition of clothing can increase their body temperature further. Be sure your pet is not too warm and keep an eye on them.

In many ways, dressing up our pets is often a sign of how much we think of them, seeing them as members of our families and wanting them to be involved in our celebrations. But it's important that we don't see them as 'mini humans' but instead, animals whose abilities and needs are different to ours - but valued just as much. They have their own emotions, feelings and needs and it is important we respect our differences and accept the boundaries so that everybody is happy at Halloween!

Instead of dressing up your pet, why not involve them by buying them a Halloween-themed toy for you both to play with together (or you could add one of our Barking Heads Tennis Balls to your next order 😉). You can even bake them a special pet friendly treat in a spooktacular design!

As well as getting dressed up in our best spooky rags for Halloween, most of us love tucking into lots of sweet treats at this time of year. But lots of these sweet treats are toxic to our furry friends. Our nutritionist team have pulled together some tips and tricks for what to avoid during the spookiest time of year…

The dangerous sweetener - Xylitol

As dog owners ourselves, we want to give our pets the best – but sometimes it can mean trawling through recipes on packs and trying to figure out what all those confusing terms mean. It might not be a word you’re used to seeing everywhere, but it’s important you keep an eye out for Xylitol on the ingredients list whenever considering feeding 'human' treats to your pet.  

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance derived from corn or wood, often used as sugar replacement in a variety of sweet food products. It’s toxic to dogs and can be life threatening. Commonly found in sweets, mints, chewing gum, jams and peanut butter, it’s also become a popular ingredient in baking so may be present in cakes and other sweet treats. It’s also sometimes referred to as ‘birch sugar’ so check the label carefully.

This Halloween, be sure to avoid all products containing xylitol when treating your pet, even if it’s in small quantities.

Clinical Signs of Xylitol Toxicity

Ingestion of xylitol is highly toxic and can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver damage/failure.

Signs include: vomiting, seizures, weakness, depression, rapid heart rate, uncoordinated movement, circling and coma.

Signs can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion but can be delayed to 12-18 hours after ingestion. Do not wait until your pet is showing signs of toxicity to contact your vet.

What if my pet has eaten Xylitol?

Do not wait until your pet is showing signs of toxicity to contact your vet.
Contact your vet immediately.

The biggy – chocolate!

Although most of us love tucking into copious amounts of chocolate at Halloween (it’s not our fault that we didn’t get as many trick or treaters as we expected and now we’ve got mounds to get through…) most of us also know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, cats and rabbits as it contains Theobromine, which is toxic.

Theobromine is a naturally occurring compound found in cacao. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content is and the more toxic it will be to our pets. However, even chocolate with less cocoa solids can still be toxic depending on the amount eaten. Cocoa powder has the highest concentration of cocoa solids and is highly toxic even in small amounts.

This Halloween be sure to keep all those chocolates out of reach from your furry friend and be careful to mind young children who could be eating their trick or treat stash around pets. Dog friendly ‘chocolate’ alternatives are available if you do want to give your furry friend a little treat! Our Tuck Shop Bundle makes the perfect treat for the spooky season. 

Clinical Signs of Chocolate Toxicity

Ingestion of chocolate at toxic levels mainly affects, guts, heart, central nervous system & kidneys. Signs include: vomiting (which may include blood), diarrhoea, restlessness, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, incoordination and seizures.
Signs of toxicity can vary depending on the amount ingested and size and breed of the pet.
Clinical signs will typically show between 4-6 hours after ingestion.

What if my pet has eaten chocolate?

Do not wait until your pet is showing signs of toxicity to contact your vet.
Contact your vet immediately as urgent treatment may be needed.

Note down
- Dogs body weight
- Type of chocolate
- How much chocolate they have eaten
- What time they ate it
This will allow the vet to calculate if the amount eaten is a toxic dose.    

Vets now also have a Chocolate Toxicity Calculator for dogs, which is available online here

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