Halloween is a lot of spooky fun for humans, but for some dogs, it can be downright scary! There are plenty of dangers that can be avoided if you plan and prepare well. Here is our five-point checklist to help you and your dog remain safe and happy.
- Keep candies and decorations out of their reach.
Human candy is for humans only! Chocolate and xylitol, a common sweetener, are both highly toxic to dogs. Likewise, be careful when it comes to decorations. Chewing on electrical wires and unattended candles can be deadly risks. Pumpkins and corn decorations can also be harmful if ingested in large amounts: at the very least, these real foods can cause gastrointestinal upset and at the worst, if a dog were to chew off large chunks, a choking or blockage hazard. Glow-in-the-dark accessories and fake blood can also be toxic. If you suspect your dog has ingested something, rush them to your nearest emergency clinic or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for help: 888-426-4435.
- To costume, or not to costume?
Many people love dressing up their dogs for Halloween, but do their dogs actually love it, or are they just tolerating it? Making sure the costume fits well and is introduced properly and positively is key. By putting it on slowly, little bits at a time, and pairing the experience with lots of little bits of high-value treats (i.e., deli meat without flavorings or additives, bits of cheese or natural hot dog, etc.), your dog may be able to tolerate a costume just fine. Remember your dog should be able to move freely in the costume, and to remove small parts if they can pose a possible choking hazard. If your dog still shows signs of not enjoying himself in the costume, don’t force him to wear it! Most dogs are happiest not having to wearing costumes, so it’s important to remember that. Remember, signs of discomfort/stress can be very subtle: licking of the lips, turning the head away, seeing the whites of the eyes, folded down/back ears, tucked tail, hunching over, furrowed brow.
- Preparing for Halloween trick-or-treaters and parties is very important!
Some dogs don’t tolerate large parties or unfamiliar visitors coming to the door, and with Halloween costumes making everyone look and sometimes even smell different, it can be even more frightening. Opening and closing of doors can also pose a risk if your dog is likely to bolt from fear, or even excitement. Management is most important. For fearful or anxious dogs, having them in a separate area with some soothing music or white noise machine to lessen the noise of the party can be best. You can also opt to give some calming treats and enrichment, to assist as well as give him something to do. For dogs that may want to join in the party, remember to be careful with opening and closing doors—it may be best to keep him on leash or have gates in place to prevent him from going into areas where he could possibly bolt and escape.
- Bring them in!
Remember that pets unattended in yards can always be at risk, regardless of the festivities taking place or time of year. Because so many more people are out on Halloween in costume, it can again be scarier for your dog and put him or her at added risk, so it’s best to bring them in and only take them out while you are able to actively supervise them.
- Don’t forget to have proper ID for your dog.
Remember to have a collar with up-to-date contact information either imprinted on the collar, or on attached tags. Microchips are also a great tool to consider. This will ensure that, if your pet does go lost, you will be reunited more quickly.
In addition to our five-point checklist, we really love Doggone Safe’s Halloween Safety Page, filled with videos and other tips for the entire family.
Owner, Delightful Doggies