Halloween is here, and it would be an oversight not address the year’s spookiest night for two-legged and four-legged creatures.
Although it’s awfully cute to dress your pets up for Halloween, as an event that pets enjoy, for most it’s right up there with getting a bath or having their nails clipped.
Not very much fun, that is.
And, if you think about it from their perspective, it makes sense.
Lots of people coming and going; strange-looking people, by the way. Loud noises, spooky music, an elevated stress level around the home due to the flurry of activity.
Then there are the costumes – Fido looks cute, but is he all that comfortable? Is any part of the costume a choking hazard? Trip hazard? Is he going to do his best to tear it apart and perhaps ingest part of it?
Is your dog skittish? An escape artist? That door opening and closing to trick-or-treaters could end up bringing lots of tears and “Lost” posters if you don’t secure your furry buddy away from the fray.
Add to that the hazards of lots of chocolate and candy around the house – chocolate and xylitol (a sugar substitute) are poisonous to pets – and you have a veritable recipe for disaster if you aren’t careful.
Avoid these frights and instead do following:
- Feel free to dress your pets in costume if they are amenable to it, but be sure to pick something that is appropriate to their size, temperament and behavioral traits. And if they are not amenable to costumes, don’t force it. Examine costumes closely and ascertain if your pet’s behavioral quirks or the situation pose any kind of problem for that particular costume.
- Don’t leave costumes on pets all night – get those photos early on, and get them out of their costumes once they exhibit any signs of frustration.
- Create a quiet space for your pets to retreat to, away from the activity, noise, and trick-or-treaters. There are few pets that are terribly tolerant of constant doorbell ringing and masses of people coming and going. It should be a space they find comforting – so don’t crate pets that aren’t crated, and don’t lock them up if it causes them more stress. Consider the possibility that, for a normally anxious pet, Halloween may be one of those holidays which you will just have to pass up – turn off the porch light and just snuggle up with them instead.
- If you have kids to take trick-or-treating, and are leaving pets unattended at home, keep them safely indoors, turn off your porch light, and put a big sign on the doorbell letting people know not ring it (or for those that can disengage or remove wireless bells, do so). Play some comforting and camouflaging music or television background noise for them.
- Absolutely secure pets that are a flight risk, and keep them far away from high traffic areas like the front door.
- Keep candy bowls and treat bags securely out of reach of any pets.
- If you have naturally nervous or anxious pets, and Halloween is an especially trying time for them, stock up on natural stress-relieving remedies, such as Rescue Remedy, melatonin, or consult your veterinarian for a mild sedative if their reactions are extreme.
As always, remember that our four-legged family don’t always feel the same about our holidays the same we do – what seems like a howling good time to us, is often just plain scary to our pets, and those needs are to be respected and managed as well as possible, so that everyone can enjoy themselves.
Additional resources and tips:
ASPCA Halloween Safety Tips
HSUS Halloween Safety Tips
Sunbear Squad – Pets in Costume