Though dressing up your dog to go trick-or-treating may seem fun to some of us, it can be a terrifying event to them. It is a holiday filled with unknown noises, wardrobes, and dangers of yummy treats in a bowl that may be left in reach of your dog to sneak and eat when you aren’t looking. We, as humans, get caught up in the festivities and fun that can come with any holiday, but tend to forget the stress it puts on our animal pet. Here are some things to try and keep your dog safe and less stressed for a more enjoyable Halloween:
- Keep candy and other human treats up and away from your dog. Chocolate is extremely toxic. Artificial sweeteners in candies and gum contain Xylitol, which is also harmful to dogs and other pets. Ingesting wrappers leave risk to choking, having an upset stomach, or potentially even block the intestines. Salty snacks if eaten in larger quantities have the possibility of poisoning your dog.
- Placing a few dog treats, baby carrots, or apple slices near where your trick-or-treaters arrive for their Halloween goodies, may help to distract your dog from some of the commotion. Hand your dog one of these treats as the visitors arrive at your door.
- Keep a constant eye on decorations placed in and around your home, including your pumpkins, corn stalks, gourds, cob webs, window clings, and so forth. Eating broken decorations can cause serious internal injuries. Electrical shock can occur if a dog chews on a power cord. Excited dogs can knock over lit candles and potentially start a fire (NEVER leave candles lit if you leave your home, even to just go outside briefly). Ingesting large amounts of pumpkin, squash, and gourds can lead to an upset stomach and a more upsetting mess in your home if your dog cannot make it outside soon enough, or if everyone is asleep and isn’t aware of the emergent situation.
- Many dogs are fearful of people that they know when they are in a costume. To them, they are strangers; the increased stresses of the holiday, combined with unfamiliar faces and clothing can add an increased chance of dog bites, even to an owner and his or her family. The incessant doorbell chiming could over-stimulate your dog, as well as any other pets in your home.
- Halloween costumes for your dog are ok if they seem ok to being dressed up. Start out with minimal attire and see how your dog reacts to it. Some love it, and some hate anything to do with it. A good alternative is a simple Halloween bandana wrapped around the dog’s collar; or a blinking Halloween light attached to the dog leash (it will gain you and your dog points for safety and still show your dog is participating in the spirit of Halloween). NEVER leave your dog unattended in a costume. The risk of getting tangled in it and other items, as well as the potential for choking, is increased.
- Make sure your dog (and other pets) is out of the way if it is left outside. If there are not able to be brought inside your home during Halloween, PLEASE keep in mind that this is a time when people can play cruel jokes “for fun”; your dog and other pets that are outside could become an unsuspecting target to pranksters.
It is important that you have identification on your dog, as well as keeping them current on vaccines, especially during times like Halloween or in a situation that has a large amount of stimuli, excitement, and unknown variables. Keep your dog on a leash when outdoors, and remember to follow your landlord’s (if you have one), city or township’s rules. Be careful not to over-feed your dog with treats in your effort to decrease the anxiety and stress it may be feeling during Halloween. Think of your dog and other pets first, and take precautions for safety as you would for your children. Be aware of your dog’s reactions to visitors during Halloween, as well as on any other occasion. Keep your dog at a distance, and use kid gates, if necessary. Use positive reinforcement when introducing your dog, not showing your own inner anxiety that will amplify and add to their own. If your dog appears afraid, or overly stimulated, remove it to another area of the home for a safer “quiet” zone, until the Trick-or-Treating timeframe has passed. Social times can be good times for families, and their dogs and other pets. Keep your pet and others safe, and have a Happy Halloween!