Halloween is a fun time for the kids, but it can be a time of stress and anxiety for your pets. PLEASE do not leave your dog outside where it can become the prey for pranksters. Many animals are teased, injured, stolen, or even killed on Halloween. If badly frightened, a pet may escape even from a fenced yard and get lost or injured. If you, or someone you know, keep pets outside, we encourage you to make changes and keep them indoors. It is best to keep them in a separate room during trick or treat time. Too many strangers in weird costumes can frighten even the calmest dog, and a frightened pooch may bolt out the door.
Very few dogs enjoy being dressed up in a costume. It is big business for pet stores and the internet to offer really cute doggie costumes, but we really advise you to forget the costume. As cute as they are, costumes pose a danger to your pet’s well-being. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your pet’s hair coat, it’s easier than you might think for him to overheat while all dressed up. Pets have also been injured when their range of motion, vision, or hearing is restricted by a costume, or when they frantically try to remove it. Many costumes contain buttons, bows, and other small accessories that can be pulled off and swallowed. It is important to make this about your pet. If he seems anxious, fearful, or uncomfortable, don’t force him to wear it. If you can’t resist dressing him up, just use a decorative bandana!
Candles, including the small ones inside jack ‘o lanterns, are fire hazards. You don’t want your dog getting too friendly or feisty with a carved pumpkin with a candle inside it. Make sure that any of these types of decorations are up well out of the dog’s reach.
We also discourage taking the dog along trick-or-treating. He may become overexcited and break loose. Leave the dog home.
Do not leave Halloween treats where the dog can reach them. Dogs do not properly digest sugary treats, and chocolate and candy with zylitol are toxic. (Zylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in all kinds of products, including sugar-free candy, gum, mints and baked goods.) A small amount of xylitol can cause a rapid, dangerous blood sugar drop and acute liver failure.
Halloween candy isn’t the only health hazard for pets. Empty candy wrappers smell like what was in them, which can intrigue your pet. Ingestion of cellophane wrappers or foil can case life-threatening bowel obstructions. Emphasize to everyone, especially the kids, the importance of keeping all candy wrappers out of paws’ reach.
Some people give non-candy treats, and a recent fad is the small boxes of raisins, or small bags of trail mix containing raisins. Raisins are toxic to dogs and very small amounts can trigger kidney failure. Chocolate covered raisins pose an even larger risk.
Talk to your children about the importance of respecting animals, and not pulling pranks on dogs. Encourage them to tell you if they see anyone annoying an animal. It is a good opportunity to discuss respect, responsibility, and compassion toward both humans and animals.
Taking just a few common sense precautions will make Halloween a lot more fun for both four-leggeds and two-leggeds. Have a safe, happy Halloween.