Halloween Safety Tips for Your Dog

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As Halloween approaches, many owners plan to include their pets in the festivities.  Here are some friendly reminders on how to keep your dogs safe during the holiday:

Candy:

Indulging in your pet’s sweet tooth is fine once in a while, but many of our snacks pose threats to dogs, especially if they get into it without anyone knowing.  Goodies can look like something fun to munch on, but plastic, cellophane and foil wrappers can obstruct their digestive systems.  Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) and raisins are toxic for them.  Keep treats high enough to be out of reach if your dog is a jumper.  Make sure they don’t go nosing through kids’ bags as you’re walking door-to-door.

Costumes:

Many children’s costumes have parts that look like chew toys or make noises that dogs find interesting enough to investigate with their teeth.  Glow sticks are a great way to ensure your child’s visibility, but the liquid inside is dangerous if digested.  Dogs should not be tempted to chew on them.

Some dogs are good sports about donning the occasional article of clothing for their human’s enjoyment, but if your dog does not want to wear a costume, don’t force them to.  A festive leash, bandana or accessory can be fun, too.  If they will play along, make sure your dog’s costume is comfortable and doesn’t restrict their ability to breath, eat, bark, walk or sit.  Give your pup a chance to get used to the costume before your big day.

Decorations:

Go easy on the fake cobwebs – animals can become trapped in them.  Keep an eye on pets lurking too closely to décor like tinsel and crepe paper, as they can cause choking and intestinal blockage.  Cooked pumpkin is great for dogs, especially if they have diarrhea, but pumpkin shells can be difficult to digest, and some gourds may be toxic.  Pumpkins coated with glitter or shellac may also pose health risks.  Consider using battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns instead of real ones.  A bounding dog can knock over a pumpkin with a real candle and start a fire.

Reducing Stress:

Halloween can be a very fun time for people, but for many dogs it is scary.  There are lots of strangers dressed in frightening costumes, screaming and running around.  Dogs don’t always understand that they are in no real danger, and can undergo a lot of stress at this time of year.  If your dog isn’t adaptable to overwhelming situations, it may be best to leave him or her at home.  Try taking them for a long walk and giving them a hearty meal so they can have a nice, long sleep.  If there are lots of noises or other stressors around, keep pets in a softly-lit room with a cushy bed and some music playing to drown out the noise.  Keep in mind that death metal and gangster rap may not be very soothing, though, so try the classical station.  If you aren’t going to hand out candy, turn outside lights off so trick-or-treaters don’t knock on the door and disturb your pets.

Happy Halloween!

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