Halloween may be full of fun and frivolity for you and your family, but when the ghosts and goblins knock at your door, or the party-goers arrive, it can be a time of pure and complete terror for your pup.
To minimize your dog’s fears and potential discomfort, here are a number of tips and some advice for helping this spooky holiday to be as safe and stress-free for your faithful companion as possible.
Hide Him from Crazy Costumes
Halloween is dress-up time, and these days, there are some scary costumes out there. If your dog is timid or fearful, avoid exposing him to the witches, monsters, vampires, and ghosts that arrive at your door or in your home.
Another costume-related risk is the makeup you may use to make yourself or your little ones look more authentic for the party or when going door-to-door. Although most are non-toxic, a tummy-upset or strangely colored mouth could be the result of ingesting the stage makeup used for costumes.
Think Twice About Pet Dress-up
It’s true, some dogs don’t mind being the star of the show, and some even like it. But many don’t. If you do choose to adorn him in a costume, take off any potential pieces that can harm or choke, make sure it’s not too tight or restrictive, and keep a close eye on him while he wears it. Maybe just clothe him long enough to take a picture or two. However, if he seems the slightest bit uncomfortable, it’s time to disrobe and maybe even forgo the dress-up plan altogether.
Put the Candy Dish High and Dry
When your back is turned, as it will probably be when giving out treats or hosting a Halloween party, your dog may try to sneak a bite, or two, or more from the candy bowl. As tempting as it is to him, the dangers in those rappers can be deadly. Chocolate is dangerous, and the darker it is, the more harmful it can be. Large quantities of it can even be life-threatening. If your dog has ingested chocolate, typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fast breathing, rapid heart rate, and possibly even seizures. If your pup exhibits any of these, do call your vet or go to your local emergency clinic as soon as possible.
Even more dangerous is a substance called xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in most sugarless gums and candies. The symptoms of xylitol ingestion include vomiting, sudden decrease in activity, weakness, staggering, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. Left untreated, xylitol poisoning is lethal. It requires immediate treatment by a vet.
Have a Party Plan
If you are planning a Halloween party, be sure to also have a plan for your dog. Chances are some people will show up in scary costumes, and chances also are that there will be all kinds of goodies around. You will be busy hosting your guests, which means keeping an eye on your pup will be difficult, at best. The solution? Off to a nice, quiet room by himself, maybe equipped with a yummy toy filled with peanut butter or some other favorite, and safe, dog goodie. Think about leaving on a television or some nice relaxing music, both of which will also drown out some of the party noise.
Have a Trick or Treat Plan
Like an in-home party, but this time the gremlins come in the form of doorbell ringers who stay on the outside. Opening the door to handout candy is an invitation for your dog to dart out in a fit of frenzy or terror. In fact, he may rush out so quickly that you won’t even notice. Once again, think about the safety and solace of that room where he can avoid all the fuss and scary things.
To avoid the heartbreak of an escaped dog on Halloween, or anytime, be sure he has on an identification tag and/or is microchipped.
Watch Your Decorations
If you are like many others, you have upped the ante on your Halloween decorations in recent years. Whether inside or outside, there are many tempting things to sniff, bite, and eat. The things to beware of include:
- Fake spider webbing or rubber “creatures” which, if eaten, can cause intestinal obstructions
- Corncobs, gourds, and other autumn vegetables pose intestinal dangers as well
- Old pumpkins that have rotted, although not lethal, can cause stomach upset as well as a big mess in your home from sore tummies.
- Electric and power cords enable you to fill your home with all the scary noises, flashing lights, and moving creepy creatures that create the chilling Halloween atmosphere you and your family relish. Hide or tuck all those dangerous, potentially shock-inducing cords away from curious pup mouths. In fact, if a shock is bad enough, it can put your dog in the hospital and the chewed wire can cause a house fire.
- Many of us enjoy a candle-lit home during Halloween, and left unwatched, the flickering of a candle can lure your dog to check it out. Likewise, he can innocently brush up against a flame which can result inburns as well as another house-fire hazard. If candlelight is your thing, consider investing in some flameless candles, which are available most everywhere.
Use a Leash
By all means, if your dog is going to accompany you on your trick-or-treat journey, keep him on a strong, firmly held leash at all times. Consider only taking a dog who is not fearful of much, who is friendly, and who won’t be tempted by unattended bags of candy. It is also highly advisable not to let a child hold onto him as all the various lures of the holiday may grab their attention away from watching out for the dog.
If you are thinking of taking your dog out on a trick-or-treat outing, think twice. Would you believe that dog bites are more common on Halloween? And a curious, or frightened dog, can jump on an unsuspecting person or child and cause injury. These, and other injuries potentially caused by your dog, not only injure the victim, but may also injure your wallet in a big way.
So, the watchwords? Enjoy your Halloween holiday, but be sure to take every precaution and meticulous planning to keep your faithful companion safe.