How to Make Sure The Day Isn’t Hair-Raising for You and Your Dogs
There is nothing we love more as pet parents than dressing up our fur babies for Halloween. Shopping for fun and creative pet costumes and having the opportunity to express our pets’ individuality through Halloween costumes always makes for a fun and memorable Halloween. However, wearing costumes isn’t for everyone—and this includes your dog.
“Some pet parents may want their furry friend to participate by dressing them up for Halloween,” said Dr. Bradley Quest, DVM. “Keep in mind many pets will not like this, and it may even be dangerous if they get their legs or head caught in the costume. If you do want to ‘dress’ your pet up, try the costume on in advance so you can see if they will accept it and if they can get used to it. Remember, don’t force the issue if they don’t want to wear it.”
In addition to Halloween costumes, it’s important to remember that our dogs can be very sensitive to the new sights, sounds, and smells that the Halloween season can bring. Everything from bright, elaborate Halloween decorations making spooky noises to the smells of Halloween candles burning in your living room or even the delicious Halloween candy sitting on your kitchen counter will catch your dogs’ attention. If tempted, they may try to do more exploring to get their paws on some delicious Halloween candy or the fragrant smelling Halloween candle.
Many people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well we think the Halloween candy is hidden; dogs have a way of finding it thanks to their excellent sense of smell. According to petMD, the two main ingredients in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine, both of which can be toxic to dogs. If your dog happens to get into any of the Halloween chocolate, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
“No forms of chocolate are safe for pets,” said Dr. Quest. “Typically, the darker the chocolate, the worse it is for a pet. Chocolate contains theobromine which pets cannot metabolize as humans can, and high levels of this can lead to nausea, vomiting, seizures, and sometimes death if a dog eats enough.”
It’s not only chocolate that can pose a dangerous threat to your dog but other types of candy as well that contain sweeteners that aren’t meant to be eaten by your dog. “Some candy contains a sweetener called xylitol,” said Dr. Quest. “Xylitol can be toxic to pets as well, causing dangerously low blood glucose levels and even death. Make sure to keep all candy containing xylitol away from pets.”
It’s important to keep candy in high areas that are out of reach for dogs such as on top of the refrigerator, the top shelf of your cabinet or even fully secure in a plastic tub with a top that is difficult for kids and dogs to open such as this one from The Container Store. Also, if you have small kids in the house, talk to them about keeping Halloween candy away from your dogs and how dangerous it can be for them if their pup eats it.
In place of handing out candy, many families hand out small boxes of snack-size raisins. Because it’s not candy, some people may think if their dog eats a raisin or two is completely harmless. However, it can be very dangerous if your dog ate raisins. “Raisins (and grapes) are not appropriate for dogs either,” said Dr. Quest. “As some people may give boxes of raisins for Halloween. If dogs eat enough, they could develop kidney failure.”
If you want to make sure your dog feels included in the Halloween festivities, try baking some fun Halloween dog treats in shapes of pumpkins or cats, so your dog doesn’t feel left out, and they’re still able to partake in that special “Halloween treat.” Be sure to use ingredients that are dog and cat-friendly and safe for them to consume. This can also be a good idea to satisfy your pup’s sweet tooth and will possibly steer them away from any Halloween candy.
Some dogs may not be a fan of trick-or-treaters coming to your door. For many dogs, the sound of the doorbell going off sends them into a panic and a stream of endless barking for the entire neighborhood to hear. If you can forgo handing out candy to trick-or-treaters for the sake of your dog’s sanity, you could always have a big bowl pre-filled with Halloween candy, sitting in a chair about 20 feet or more away from your front door with a sign explaining for people to refrain from knocking on your door and to take candy from the bowl. Granted, you may get trick-or-treaters who overindulge and take more candy than what is necessary, but it’s a small price to pay, knowing your dogs are quiet and happy. Also, keeping the music playing on your TV or simply keeping the TV on can drown out the sounds of neighborhood kids walking around outside your house. “Please keep in mind some pets may be fearful of children and others dressed up as they don’t understand what is going on especially if it is a new experience for them,” said Dr. Quest.
In addition to taking into consideration if your dogs like children or are fearful of them, it’s also important to consider keeping them in a secure place in your house, so they don’t try to escape. “Make sure as trick-or-treaters come and go, and doors open and close that pets don’t get outside and run away,” said Dr. Quest. “It may be best to put your pet someplace safe for that part of the evening where they can’t get out or at the very least make sure they have their identification tag, color, or other identification on in case they do get out.”
Halloween can be a very fun and exciting time filled with dressing up in creative Halloween costumes, eating delicious Halloween candy and hanging out with friends, but it’s good to remember that what you consider a fun time may not be fun for your dogs. “Puppy proofing” your home before any Halloween festivities is a great way to bring yourself peace of mind knowing that your dog won’t get his paws on something he shouldn’t and can avoid any unnecessary disasters to ensure you all have a wonderful and safe Halloween.
Author Bio: Latasha Ball is the Marketing Coordinator for Pets Global, the founders of pet food brands Zignature, Essence Pet Foods, and Fussie Cat. She has more than ten years of experience in marketing and public relations, in which she enjoys being able to combine her professional background with her passion for animals.