With Halloween just a couple of days away, what are your plans? Halloween can be a lot of fun for the whole family, including your dog, but you need to make sure he’s safe and comfortable on a night that can be scary for him. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to have a great time.
• This may be obvious but keep the candy away from your dog. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, and candies with xylitol can be very dangerous for your dog. I thought everyone knew this, but apparently not. We just learned of a dog who recently passed away and the owner admitted that he fed his dog chocolate regularly because it was the dog’s favorite food! Xylitol is extremely toxic and can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and even death.
• If you put candles in your jack-o-lanterns, keep them out of reach of dogs, especially those with long tails!
• Even if your dog is microchipped, make sure he is wearing proper identification in case he gets out. Microchips can sometimes travel in the body and can’t always be read by the scanner.
• Unless your dog is extremely social and loves strangers, you might want to put him in a quiet room away from the front door while trick-or-treaters are out and about. Constant doorbell ringing and too many strangers can be very stressful for many dogs.
• If you plan on putting your dog in a costume, most important, make sure he will tolerate it. If he doesn’t like the costume, take some time to try to get him used to it. Never force your dog to wear a costume if he doesn’t like it. It will cause unnecessary stress for your dog. If your dog seems stressed or uncomfortable with the costume, consider just putting on a Halloween bandana instead. He won’t mind not being dressed up!
• If your dog doesn’t mind dressing up, make sure the costume fits properly, is comfortable and won’t be too hot. It shouldn’t have parts that impede your dog’s ability to move, bark, or drink water, or interfere with his eyesight, hearing, and breathing. The costume shouldn’t be annoying to your dog or pose any health hazards.
• Keep all electrical cords away from your dog.
• It’s probably best not to take your dog with you when you go out to trick-or-treat. Many dogs become frightened seeing people in costumes.
Most of us enjoy Halloween to some degree, but our pets may not. For them, Halloween can be a night that causes a lot of stress and anxiety. It’s up to us to keep our dogs comfortable and stress free even if that means we aren’t able to enjoy their company as we would like. Happy Halloween!
Sherri Cappabianca, an expert in the field of canine health and fitness, is the author of two books on canine health, and co-owner of Rocky’s Retreat, an intimate and personal boarding, daycare, hydrotherapy and fitness center, and Barking Dog Fitness, a Gym for Dogs, both located in Orlando. For more information, visit rockysretreat.com or barkingdogfitness.com.