Dogs just thrive on routine, don’t they? When anything happens to disrupt their world, many dogs are easily spooked—and the general chaos that naturally comes with Halloween can be upsetting, and even dangerous, for our pets. But as their #1 human and protector, there are precautions you can take to help your furry little monster make it past the holiday safe and sound. Here are our best Halloween safety tips for dogs.
1. All Tricks—No Treats, Please
Much like a small human child, dogs of all ages need reassurance that goodbye doesn’t mean forever, and the best way for them to understand this at a visceral level is to train it into them. Pet experts at Orvis suggest you “separate early and often.” Leave your pet alone and busy in the next room for a short amount of time, then come back in the room with no fanfare. Gradually extend the amount of time you’re separated indoors, and then follow the same step-by-step technique to get them used to being separated from you when you leave the house. When you’re together again, give them brief praise and some low-key love.
Most pet owners wouldn’t give candy to their dog on purpose—it’s common sense that it’s not a dog-appropriate treat: It’s for the little human sugar-addicted zombies instead! But sometimes, the candy bowl is left in places where Max or Trixie can get into it, and that can be a deadly mistake.
- Chocolate: especially dark and baking varieties)
- Chocolate-covered raisins: both the chocolate and raisins are toxic
- Sugar-free candy: this can cause low blood sugar and liver failure
- Hard candy/lollipops: all parts of a lollipop are choking hazards, including both the candy and the stick
- Wrapped candies: swallowing wrapped sweets can cause vomiting or obstruction in the intestinal track
It’s best to keep all candy on lock-down until it’s trick-or-treat time, and then make sure to keep the bowl well out of reach of your dog. If you think your dog may have swallowed something toxic, be sure to call the ASPCA Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or your vet’s emergency number.
2. To Costume or Not to Costume?
It’s best to let your dog take the lead on this one. Some dogs don’t mind dressing up at all, while others cringe, cower, whimper, or otherwise show their unhappiness about being made to wear a witch hat, football helmet, or wiener suit. If you absolutely have your heart set on at least trying to wear a costume, be sure to do so well ahead of the big night so it doesn’t add an extra layer of stress to an already-chaotic evening. If your dog is OK with dressing up, make sure the costume allows them to breathe, see, and move properly—for obvious safety reasons. If you’re going to take them on your Trick-or-Treat excursion with the kiddos, make sure your dog has proper ID, reflective tape on their costume. Oh and bring along some little treats and water for your pooch, to keep their strength up.
3. Keeping Dogs Safe in the Home
If you prefer to stay at home with your dog and pass out treats to the neighborhood kids, it’s best to leave “door duty” to the humans. The sound of the doorbell alone is a stressor for pets, let alone the sight of strangers in costume right on their doorstep! Your dog’s nerves may be so on edge that a normally-docile pet may act out aggressively, or they could very easily dart outside while the door is open. You may want to do your dog a favor by letting them spend the peak trick-or-treating hours in their kennel, where they feel safe and snug, or on their favorite couch in a room with no access to the front door.
The Tip of the Tail
As responsible pet owners, it’s our responsibility to help our dogs cope when they’re stressed for the holidays. With a little common-sense help from their humans, Max and Trixie will weather the ghosts and goblins just fine.