With these precautions, your dog can have a howling good time.
By Audrey Pavia
Halloween is a fun time for kids and grown-ups alike, but it can be scary and even dangerous for pets. You can keep your dog safe this year—and even enjoy his participation—by following some precautions.
Trick-or-treaters can be a real hoot, but all that door-knocking and bell ringing can drive your dog crazy. To prevent your dog from barking all night and stressing out over the strangely clad visitors, consider keeping him in a back room of your house or apartment. Leave a radio or TV on to help block out the noise, and give him something to chew on to divert his attention. If your dog is particularly high-strung, consider administering a dose of a natural calming product to help ease his anxiety. (Rescue Remedy is one such product, available in health food and pet stores.)
If you won’t be home on Halloween, keep your dog inside the house or locked in a garage while you are away. Dogs can become frightened by all the activity on the street and can escape from a yard. They also need to be protected from pranksters, who might gain access to them from a gate. Turn the lights off in your house so trick-or-treaters will avoid your home in your absence.
If you plan to take your dog trick-or-treating with the family (a good idea only if your pooch is friendly to strangers, well-behaved and not easily stressed), be sure to fit him with a secure collar and ID tag. Keep him on leash at all times for his safety and the safety of others. If he will be wearing a costume, make sure he’s not upset about wearing it and that it’s comfortable. Watch out for strings, straps and any other part of the costume that might restrict your dog’s movement or sight, or wrap tightly around his neck. Keep an eye on your dog while he’s wearing his costume to make sure it doesn’t affect his ability to move. Some dogs will even chew on their costumes and swallow it in pieces, so watch for this dangerous activity as well.
Halloween decorations can also pose a safety hazard for your dog. Keep an eye on your pet to make sure he doesn’t chew on decorations (especially strings of lights) or knock over lit candles. Some dogs have a hankering for pumpkin, so make sure your jack-o-lantern is out of reach. While it won’t seriously hurt your dog to eat an entire pumpkin, it will mostly likely give him digestive upset.
Candy gathered during Halloween can be dangerous to your dog, too, if he gets into it. In large amounts, chocolate can even be fatal. Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, can cause serious damage to a dog’s heart. The fat and sugar also present in chocolate can cause pancreatitis if consumed in large quantities. Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is becoming popular in candy, is also highly toxic to dogs. It is often found in gum and some hard candies. For this reason, it’s wise to keep all Halloween candy well out of your dog’s reach. Be sure to remind your children to keep candy up high up in their rooms where your dog can’t reach it.
With the right amount of precautions, your dog will stay safe and sound on Halloween.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.