With its costume parties and candy-fueled festivities, the scariest thing about Halloween for most adults is probably its associated calorie count, but the holiday can be truly terrifying for dogs. Additionally, some young trick-or-treaters could find our furry friends frightening, even if they are loving canines confined on their own home turf. Here are seven tips to help ensure everyone -- including your dog -- has a safe and happy Halloween.
Keep your dog indoors
The best spot for most dogs on Halloween is indoors. Ideally, furry family members should be kept in a room or crate well away from the doorway where you’ll be distributing candy. That will prevent them from taking advantage of you or unsuspecting trick-or-treaters to make a break for it, and it will likely help your pet stay calmer during doorbell ringing, knocking, and stranger visits from youngsters in creepy costumes.
Exercise before festivities
Treat your dog to a walk or exercise session before dark on Halloween to help burn off some energy, and provide your pet with a toy to keep it entertained while trick-or-treaters are making their rounds. You may also want to consider investing in some pet-friendly Halloween treats to reward your dog during check-ins throughout the evening.
Only let your dog outside under supervision
If nature calls, keep a close eye on furry friends, even when they are in their own yard. Not all tricks people play on pets are harmless Halloween fun, unfortunately, and even well-intentioned little werewolves and witches could inadvertently let your dog loose by opening the wrong gate. If your pooch will be outdoors at all during the dark hours of All Hallow’s Eve, be sure he’s wearing the right equipment, whether you’re walking him or letting him burn off some energy in the backyard. A reflective harness or collar will help him stay visible, and if you’re walking your dog, be sure to also have a reflective leash, a flashlight, and a blinking, clip-on light your dog can wear so you’ll both be visible to cars and pedestrians.
Make sure your dog has contact information
In case your dog does pull off an escape act, it’s important he or she is outfitted with up-to-date identification. Tags with your contact information will make it fast and easy for a friendly neighbor to return your pet, but an embedded microchip is the best form of foolproof identification should a dog shed its collar.
Be careful with costumes
Canine costumes are adorable, but they aren’t every dog’s dream. Many organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, recommend against dressing your dog in a Halloween costume unless you know the animal enjoys it. If so, make sure the outfit doesn’t limit your dog’s ability to see, move, breathe, or bark, and check it carefully for parts that could fall off or be chewed off and present a choking hazard for your pet. Lastly, don’t take off your dog’s identification tags for the sake of appearances.
Watch out for decorations
Keep a close eye on Halloween decorations. Interesting new objects and wires could look like chew toys to curious canines, putting them at risk for electrical shock, and a wayward paw or happy tail could easily overturn a jack-o-lantern with a lit candle inside. Your best bet is to put any Halloween decorations well out of your dog’s reach to prevent any accidents or injuries to both people and pets.
Be careful with candy
Candy should be reserved for human Halloween visitors since some sweet treats contain ingredients that can be dangerous, or even deadly, for dogs. For example, chocolate can cause vomiting, seizures, and other symptoms, and the artificial sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Xylitol can cause a rapid decline in blood pressure, seizures, loss of coordination, and liver failure. Halloween isn’t the only time dog owners need to keep a careful eye on ingredient lists: Xylitol is found in some sugar-free hard candies, yogurts, and even some brands of peanut butter.
Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for dogs. Sticking to these seven simple suggestions will help make the holiday a treat for you and your four-legged friend alike.
Nick Burton (Travel Planning Tips to Help You and Your Dog Have an Awesome Trip), Jessica Brody (How To Pick and Prepare For Your First Pet), Willa Seybolt (Why The Endangered Species Act Exists), Penny Martin (How To Make Sure Your Dog Has A Safe, Stress-Free Halloween)