Halloween is a seriously fun time to have a dog. More pet owners than ever are incorporating their pets into their Halloween traditions. Even still, All Hallow’s Eve presents can be really, really scary…if you’re a dog.
What can you do to help keep your dog calm (and safe!) on Halloween this year? It’s pretty simple, really. Let’s talk about the four ways Halloween is most dangerous for your dog’s health and what you can do about it.
1. Out and About
Is your dog adventurous enough to head out into the fray on Halloween? It’s an important question to ask yourself – a lot of dogs simply aren’t ready emotionally or temperamentally to be part of the party. Whether you’re considering taking your dog to the neighborhood costume parade, to a friend’s get together, or even on your trick-or-treating rounds, first ask whether he will enjoy it. If the answer is unequivocally “yes,” then ask whether he can handle it.
Dogs are naturally protective animals and for many, the sight of people in costumes can just be too scary to handle. If your dog’s quick to aggression or to anxiousness, plunking him down in a crowd full of unfamiliar dressed up people is going to make him nervous. A lot of dogs actually become lost on Halloween when they become skittish and run away. Only if your dog is relatively calm, well-trained, and has the physical stamina to handle it should you consider bringing him along for Halloween.
2. Costumes & Cobwebs
Dog costumes: They’re the greatest, right!? Nothing’s cuter than a doggy Darth Vader or a pup dressed like a hot dog. Costumes, though, aren’t for every dog. Always start with a dress rehearsal if you plan to have your dog in costume on Halloween night. Let him get used to the feeling of the costume and watch for signs of agitation or to see if he tries to pull it off with his paws or teeth. Even if your dog can’t get out of a costume without your help, if having it on makes him uncomfortable, that sensation will quickly build into frustration and fear. Also be sure you’re thoughtful of the weather on Halloween. Will your dog be burning up inside a scratchy wool costume on a 70° night, or too cold in near-freezing temps for several hours?
Halloween decorations can also pose a serious threat to dogs. They’re often placed low to the ground and rife with swallow-able parts. Particularly dangerous are fake cobwebs and plastic spiders, both of which pose a choking hazard. If you plan to put out decorations at home, work on training your dog all month long not to go near them.
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3. Candy Overload
Candy is, obviously, not for dogs. Your dog doesn’t need hundreds of extra calories of pure sugar. (Side note: He’ll also be bouncing off the walls all night long if you give him candy! Are you up for a midnight run?) Additionally, dogs can’t understand that candy is usually wrapped, either, so they’re likely to eat the paper and plastic around the candy, too, which can be harmful and even lead to intestinal blockage.
What kind of candy is dangerous to dogs? Chocolate is terrible for dogs, but you knew that one. Anything with raisins can also be toxic to dogs, as can any sugar-free candy made with Xylitol, a chemical that can be deadly to pets. Hard, round candies are choking hazards for both dogs and young kids, too. What can you do? Avoid actually giving your dog candy of course, but also be careful to keep your treat bucket out of his reach. Feed him a big meal before trick-or-treat time rolls around to keep his belly nice and full, and reward him with treats periodically if necessary so he doesn’t get the munchies.
4. Doorbell Defensiveness
Most dogs aren’t all that chill about the doorbell. Multiple that ding-dong! sound by 100 and Halloween can quickly turn into a nightmare for your pet. Oh, and don’t forget that on the other side of every loud dinging noise is a person (or six!) dressed up in terrifying costumes! Halloween, are you trying to give our dog a coronary?
If your dog is particularly sensitive to doorbells or visitors, it’s best to keep your light off and eschew giving out candy this year. Planning ahead can help some dogs become more used to the sound of the doorbell, but ditch the idea if your dog is ever aggressive towards strangers at the door. Remember that although you find it annoying when your dog barks and jumps up and down when the doorbell rings, he probably actually finds it stressful. There’s no need to add undue stress to your dog’s life unless you’re absolutely, positively sure he’s actually having fun in the process.