It’s important for pet owners to be aware of the wide variety of trouble dogs and cats can experience at Halloween.  Veterinarian Mark Freeman at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech reminds us of responsibilities that go along with keeping pets safe this time of year.

“We love for our pets to be part of our family and to experience holidays with us,” said Freeman. “It’s important that you have experience with the animal to know what kind of response you’re going to get in a certain situation, whether your pet is going to be safe or not safe.”

Halloween reminders from Dr. Mark Freeman:

“Be careful about dressing pets in a costume.  Some tolerate it really well, others don’t. Try it out ahead of time. Make certain your pet is comfortable.  Use soft, loose fitting materials without sharp edges.”

“The same goes for taking pets with you when trick-or-treating.  Large crowds and strange costumes can be a problem.  When in doubt, leave the pets at home.”

“Dogs in particular can become especially agitated and excited when the doorbell is ringing over and over again. If necessary, consider taking them to another part of the house.  Anti-anxiety medications can also be effective.”

“The bottom line with pets and Halloween candy – don’t let them get near it.  Chocolates can be very toxic to both dogs and cats.  Sugar-free candies can contain Xylitol which can be really toxic for pets.  Watch out for bad reactions and contact a vet right away if concerned.”

“Cats can be very susceptible to Halloween mischief.  Indoor cats should stay indoors, and cat-owners should consider bringing outdoor cats inside for the night."

Watch a video with Dr. Freeman

Dr. Mark Freeman is an assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He joined in the college in 2012 after serving in small animal surgery and medicine faculty positions at Ross University and Tuskegee University. Freeman is board certified in canine and feline specialty by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

To secure a live or recorded video interview with Mark Freeman from the Virginia Tech campus, contact Bill Foy in the Media Relations office at 540-231-8719 or 540-998-0288.  

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