Halloween can be fun for the whole family, including the family dog, but there are also potential hazards that can make the holiday a complete nightmare. With a little preparation, you can make sure that everyone can enjoy the season and avoid pitfalls. Use our handy guidelines to make this the best “Howl-o-ween” ever!
On Halloween, walk your dog while it is still light out, before trick-or-treaters begin their journeys. Your dog may find candy, wrappers, and broken eggs on lawns and streets for several days after the “big night”, so keep your eyes peeled and make sure that these tempting but potentially dangerous treats stay out of reach.
We all want to include our dogs in the festivities, but it’s important to keep treats for the kiddies away from your dog. Chocolate and sweets are not healthy for your dog’s digestive system, which is not able to process them. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be harmful and sometimes fatal, and some candies include xylitol, which can be poisonous to your dog. Hand out wrapped candies to trick-or-treaters to prevent your dog from being attracted to the sweets, and store them in a safe place your pet cannot reach.
Children in costumes can frighten pets, and dogs can also frighten children, creating a potentially disastrous situation. If your dog gets frightened easily or prefers not to be around children, secure him in a safe and secure room when you answer the door so he cannot run out, get hurt, or frighten your visitors.
If your dog enjoys greeting trick-or-treaters, keep him on leash. The leash will help you to react if your dog becomes upset or frightened. You can keep your dog from feeling ignored when you’re handing out goodies by stocking up on pet friendly Halloween treats — you can find all kinds of pumpkin-flavored, bat-shaped and “bone-i-fied” snacks to include your dog in the fun. Or make your own: Slices of apple spread with peanut butter or plain yogurt are sure to be a hit with dogs. When costumed kids visit, reward your pet for sitting quietly when the doorbell rings with his very own goodies. Remember to count these treats as calories when figuring out your dog’s intake for the day so as not to overfeed him.
With all the opening and closing of the door to greet children in costume, it can be easy for a pet to slip out without your noticing, especially when it comes to small dogs. Even if your pet is safely in a room or crate away from the door, be sure that she is equipped with ID or a microchip just in case.
Lots of us get a chuckle out of dressing our pets up for Halloween, but you’ll need some planning and patience to make sure your dog enjoys it as well. Buy the costume several weeks before the “big night” to make sure it fits comfortably. Costumes shouldn’t restrict your pet’s ability to move around or breathe, and shouldn’t have buttons, bows, fringe or other items that are easily chewed off and swallowed. Never leave your pet in costume while unsupervised. If your dog just isn’t into dressing up — if he resists getting dressed or struggles to get free of the costume — let him join the party in his birthday suit. You can also opt for a Halloween-themed collar or t-shirt for a little festive pizzazz.
Watch out for your party decorations to make sure you pet doesn’t ingest them or become tangled in wires or other dangerous materials. Fake spider webs and plastic spiders can be tempting to dogs and can result in swallowing and choking incidents that can be very serious. Never leave your dog alone in a room with jack-o-lanterns that can be knocked over by a wagging tail, and supervise your pet around decorations he may not be used to.
Don’t leave your dog unattended outside on Halloween, even if she is behind a fence. Pranksters may target your dog with eggs or more dangerous pranks, and passersby may be tempted to give your dog harmful treats and candy. She may also be frightened by flashlights, costumes, and loud voices, so keep her inside with you.
And most of all, keep the holiday fun and safe for your dog. If your dog is a “party animal”, stay aware of his needs so that he doesn’t get into trouble, and inform your guests of your rules so that they don’t accidentally hurt your dog. If your dog seems frightened or uncomfortable, let him opt out and give him a room with the radio or TV on to keep him calm and relaxed.
Have a great “Howl-o-ween”!