How to have a safe and happy Halloween with your dog
Halloween can be great fun for us, but the strangers, costumes, noises and disruption in routine can be very stressful for our dogs. Because your dog will probably not see Halloween in the same fun-filled light as you do, it’s important to take some precautions before the spooky night begins.
Before any of the Halloween preparations (costumes, music, special effects) begin, make sure your dog is properly exercised while it is still light outside. Getting a good walk and play session in will release some energy and set your dog up for success. The hustle and bustle of the night can cause stress and there may be opportunities to ingest dropped candy and costume material as well as a chance to slip out the door – any of which will put a damper on the evening. You will want to find a quiet room to put their crate, exercise pen and/or bed. This is where they should stay during the Halloween festivities. Be sure to have water and some toys in this area as well as a radio or television playing with the volume not loud, but strong enough to block out the noise coming from other areas of the home. Setting up your dog in that room should help avoid any accidents.
Even though your dog is relaxing safely in another room, it’s important to take some extra precautions. While I’m sure your dog is microchipped or tattooed, it’s also important to make sure your dog’s collar is on and the tags are on their collar with all of the information they carry being correct. Halloween is definitely a time when you want to make sure your dog is wearing a collar with ID tags.
If you need an excuse to take even more pictures of your pup, here it is – make sure you have current pictures of your dog in case they do get out and go missing. This is especially important on Halloween, but also at all times because if you ever need to post that your dog is lost on social media or via a group’s site, you have a recent image
Candy is a huge part of Halloween celebrations and the sweets start rolling into the home before the 31st
. Be mindful of where you store candies and keep them far out of your dog’s reach. Most candies have sugar, which can cause gastrointestinal troubles and those without sugar can be sweetened with Xylitol which is toxic to dogs. Lollipop sticks and wrappers also present a choking hazard.
Chocolate is a very commonly known danger to dogs as it is toxic to them when it is ingested. The chemical in chocolate that is dangerous to dogs is theobromine. When it is ingested, this chemical acts like speed to the dog’s system. It can make them restless, increase heart rate, induce tremors or even seizures.
The darker the chocolate the more toxic it is for your dog. Small dogs are at greater risk as it takes less chocolate ingested to cause damage. In any case, if your dog does eat chocolate or you suspect they have (clues include wrappers, vomiting and behaving in an unusual manner), call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic ASAP. Fast action can save your dog’s life.
It’s crucial to teach your children and have your children tell their friends visiting that although they may mean to do something nice, giving a dog chocolate and candies can actually be very dangerous.
If your child or a visiting child wants to give your dog a treat, give them some dog friendly treats and show them how to give your dog them, while supervising the entire time.
As you are aware, dogs are curious by nature and love to investigate anything new that enters their home. Unfortunately, most Halloween decorations present a fire, electrical or choking hazard.
Keep candles and lit jack o lanterns higher up and far away from your dog’s curious nose. At minimal their whiskers could get singed. At worst, they could knock the pumpkin over and get badly burned as well as set fire to your home. I would suggest keeping lit pumpkins and candles on tables illuminated by an LED light.
Keep electrical cords away from where your dog can run into them and always supervise a puppy near plugged in decorations as they could chew the cords a receive an electric shock.
Keep display decorations away from your dog to avoid any chewing accidents, chocking or gastrointestinal issues.
I don’t dress my dogs up in costumes. Although some dogs are clowns and might enjoy the attention, many dogs don’t like being in a costume and I feel as though more can go wrong than can go right. Apart from your dog possibly being uncomfortable in the getup, a costume could also restrict your dog’s ability to physically communicate with other dogs and put them in danger, so definitely don’t take your dog to a dog park or large off leash area in costume. If you do decide to put your dog in a costume, make sure it fits properly and is comfortable, doesn't have any pieces that can easily be chewed off, and doesn't interfere with your pet's sight, hearing, breathing, barking or moving. Velcro is recommended over buttons or zippers. Be sure to have a “dress rehearsal”. Take time to get your pet used to the costume before Halloween, and never leave your pet unsupervised while they are in the costume.
Dogs generally will give us some signs when they don’t like being in costume and these signs include crouching, putting their tail between their legs, panting excessively, yawning, hiding, trying to rub the costume off on the floor and/or scratching at it. If your dog demonstrates any of these signs of distress, remove the costume immediately.
I find that Halloween printed collars and bandanas are just as festive and less dangerous. They are easy to wash, don’t take up much storage and you will have them for years.
As for costumes on people, many dogs read human faces and when they are covered up these could really frighten them. You know your dog best and they will have a clear way of telling you if the mask upsets them. If this is the case, you may want to pick a costume without a mask, or only put it on when your dog is safely in another room.