Halloween is filled with spooky costumes, bite-sized candy, and carved pumpkins. It’s fun for the whole family, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming for our feline and canine companions. Costumes can frighten, chocolate can sicken, lit jack-o-lanterns can be knocked over, and the chaos of the festivities can place a lot of stress on our pets. Follow our top 5 safety tips for dogs to ensure nothing goes bump in the night.
1. Keep candy out of reach
Everyone knows chocolate is toxic to dogs, but few realize that it’s effects can range from mild sickness to death. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which when ingested, can induce vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, or even seizures. The main factors involved in assessing the severity of the incident are: type of chocolate (milk, semi-sweet, and baking), amount eaten, and weight of the dog. While a Yorkie who has eaten a teaspoon of semi-sweet chocolate might get sick, a Great Dane might be able to eat a tray of brownies without so much as as a loose bowel movement. Always play it safe and contact your local vet.
2. Keep pets away from the door
With the front door opening and closing throughout the night as trick-or-treaters make their rounds, it’s important to keep dogs secure in their own quarters. No matter how well behaved your pooch may be, there’s no accounting for confusion or aggression that may set in with so many strangers on your home’s threshold dressed in costumes that are spooky to humans and terrifying to dogs. Place them in the room farthest from the front door with a comfy dog bed, their favorite toy, and a television that can distract them from the commotion at the entrance. This also acts as a precaution against small children who might be frightened by an approaching dog.
3. Keep jack-o-lanterns off the ground
While pumpkin is good for digestive health, urinary health, and weight loss in dogs, jack-o-lanterns illuminated by lit candles are potential fire hazards. Keep them out of reach of inquisitive noses by placing them on ledges or sturdy pedestals. The last thing you want is an accidental house fire caused by a capsized jack-o-lantern. Electrical ornaments should also be closely monitored to ensure your pup doesn’t mistake it for an intruder, bite it, and get a nasty electric shock or burn.
4. Introduce dogs to the concept of Halloween costumes in advance
Dogs tend to have a difficult time separating strangers from friends when they are dressed in costumes that conceal their identity. If you will be wearing a costume throughout the night, try it on a few days in advance and put it on in front of your dog so he knows it’s you. If you’re hosting a party, make sure your dog is comfortable interacting with people who he has never met before and who may have their faces covered. If you anticipate a problem, sequester your canine as detailed in tip #2. Sometimes it’s better to play it safe than sorry, for both your dog and your guests.
5. Make sure dog costumes are safe
For many, the best part about Halloween is dressing their Dachshund up as a hot dog or their Bichon Frise as a bumblebee. For the owners it’s a cuteness overload, but for the dog it can be a confining, itchy nuisance. Dog costumes should be tried on days in advance to ensure they don’t inhibit the dog’s ability to breath, drink, or bark. Canine Halloween costumes are also dangerous if consumes. Choose a costume that is streamlined and without any nibble-able pieces. If there’s any doubt as to the safety of the outfit, let your companion’s new Halloween costume be “dog au natural.”