Halloween Pet Dangers

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.

 

Halloween is a Nightmare for your Dog!

Scary costumes, spooky music, and chocolate treats all make Halloween lots of fun—for people, but those same things can create frightening and stressful experiences for your animal companions. The noises, trick-or-treaters at the door, and people in weird costumes can stimulate even the calmest dog to become fearful or aggressive.

Halloween dress-up for your dog has given pet stores and on-line pet supply sites another lucrative opportunity to make money, and every year I remind people that this is a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs who prefer their birthday suits rather than cutesy costumes. Dogs are dogs; they do not need to be dressed up– most are not thrilled about wearing a costume and , however adorable they may be, most are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous. It is easy for her to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is always to FORGET DOG COSTUMES , and spend a few bucks on a safe toy–maybe a new Kong– that your dog will enjoy for months to come. If, however, you are determined to see your dog in a Halloween outfit , please consider these tips for keeping him safe , and hopefully stress free.

  • Make sure the outfit doesn’t restrict his movements in any way. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs, and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and be very uncomfortable. He’ll have to walk, run, and take potty breaks, so the costume needs room in the legs, and not get in the way when nature calls.
  • Keep in mind that your dog is probably not used to a costume, so don’t leave him dressed up for an extended period of time. He could get uncomfortable and irritated enough to shred the costume or even lash out with a bite or scratch.
  • The costume should not restrict his sight or hearing, and should not impede his ability to breathe or bark.
  • As cute as they might be, some elaborate costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Consider the temperature, and your dog’s coat to be sure that the outfit is not too heavy for the weather.
  • I browsed through a costume section, and it was obvious that many of them would most likely hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous. Many of them also had small dangling accessories that the dog might chew of and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Most costumes are made from cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction, possibly causing an itchy rash, and possible infection. If your dog tries to scratch and rub the outfit off, please forget it.

It is important to have a couple dress rehearsals prior to the big night. Let your dog examine the outfit before you put it on him. Place the costume one the floor, and allow your dog sniff it…then drape part of the costume over his back, repeating this process several times before your actually put it on him. Take it on and off several times, and if your dog is distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear it. Animals want desperately to please their caregivers, but we need to be concerned about their feelings, rather than our amusement. It is up to us to make sure that our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Frights, Chills and Spooky Thrills

Frights and chills, spooky thrills, candy and nuts, bring lots of fun and laughter! Filling your Halloween with absolute delight” for humans, but Halloween can be a traumatic or even dangerous time for your pet. Here are a few tips to protect him on this spooky day:

  • Never leave your dog (or cat) outdoors. There are plenty of stories of pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, or even killed pets on this night. A frightened pet could easily get lost in the confusion of the holiday, so set up a place with a quiet space in a room away from the front door, so he doesn’t freak out every time he hears the doorbell or knocking sound. Even a very mellow dog can be overwhelmed with all the strange looking creatures in wild costumes.
  • Exercise him early, before the kids begin to trick-or treat. He will be less anxious if he is tired. Be sure he is wearing complete, up-to-date , identification, just in case an escape does occur. A lost dog wearing proper ID, especially one that has been microchipped, has the best chance of being reunited with his caregiver.
  • Think twice about a costume. Most pets do not enjoy wearing a pretty pink tutu, or ghost or goblin suit, and it can put a lot of stress on the animal. If you feel you must dress up your dog, make sure the costume is reflective, isn’t constricting, annoying, or unsafe, doesn’t obstruct her vision, or have loose parts. An emergency visit to the vet could ruin the fun!
  • Dogs are naturally curious, and decorations can pose a huge threat to them. Keep all decorations including streamers, glitter, glues and adhesives, glow sticks and jewelry, costume parts, silly string, electrical cords, jack-o-lanterns, and all the props from skeletons and skulls to spider webs and candles out of reach.
  • The National Fire Protection Association estimates that over 1,000 house fires are accidentally started each year by pets. A better choice than burning actual candles would be no-flame candles. Battery operated candles with flickering LED lights create a real burning candle effect…..however, even these should be kept away from inquisitive paws…ingesting the batteries would be serious.
  • NO candy – especially chocolate. This is an important Halloween safety tip as chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine from cacao beans, and can cause seizures, coma and even death if consumed by dogs. Also sugar-free candy containing Zylitol can cause liver failure and death. Be sure that all the children in your household understand the importance of never sharing their candy with the dog. Treat bags should be stored in a designated safe place, and candy wrappers should be disposed of in a secure garbage container. Empty wrappers as well as sucker sticks can cause choking or intestinal problems,

 

A quick and easy treat for your dog would be Peanut Butter-Pumpkin Yummies:

  • 2.5 cups of flour (wheat preferred but white is okay)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (DO NOT buy pie mix)
  • 2-3 Tlbs of peanut butter
  • A bit of water ( to make dough workable)

Steps

  1. Mix together flour, 2 eggs, ½ cup canned pumpkin, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
  2. Add water as needed to make the dough workable.
  3. Either roll the dough out and cut into shapes, or you can just drop by small spoonfuls, onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes…for harder biscuits, bake about 10 minutes longer.

Remember that your pets are depending on you to keep them safe from the dangerous ghosts and goblins that this holiday brings out!

The Spookiest Night of the Year!

“Trick or treat, bags of sweets, ghosts walking down the streets”…..Halloween will soon be here, and promises to be a howling good time for kids and many adults, but for your dogs…not so much. For most dogs, it is one of the most frightening days of the year, and the new trend to put your dog in a costume will only add unnecessary stress!… Pet stores are loaded with really cute outfits for your pooch, with sales of pet costumes soaring in recent years, growing by 68% last year, according to the National Retail Federation, and retailers say they see demand only increasing in the years ahead. Pet Smart points to the fact that it now carries 111 styles of pet costumes and accessories; it’s even starting to offer items for “small animals.” These are commercial ventures targeted for the enjoyment of humans, not the animals!

According to Pet Poison Helpline, emergency critical care and toxicology calls increase dramatically during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of the year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and average costs are documented as more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective; they are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however “cute” they are, are uncomfortable, British Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly advocates against this fad, calling it annoying, and potentially dangerous, believing that legal action might be warranted for people who dress up their pets. Dogs aren’t “dress up dolls” or toys to play with, and if you are honest with yourself, you will probably admit that, even if your dog doesn’t fight being dressed up, she probably wants nothing to do with it, and it’s a huge relief once it’s off. My advice is FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but sadly, many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit, and many others will ignore my advice, so please make sure that the costume doesn’t restrict his movement, hearing, vision, or movement, and is safe and comfortable.

  • Most costumes are made of scratchy, cheap material which could result in your dog’s adverse reaction. If you notice her scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction can cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Make sure the costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s paws, legs, torso, or neck or tight elastic cords can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The outfit should not constrict his movement, or hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the ones that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Check carefully for small or dangling accessories which she might chew off and swallow. Buttons, ribbons, and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Some elaborate Halloween costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your dog’s coat, it is easier than you might think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times prior to actually putting the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog shows abnormal anxiety or is distressed, please don’t force him to wear it. A colorful bandana would make for a happier dog.

It is our responsibility to make sure our dogs’ Halloween doesn’t turn into frightful nightmares.

Don’t Let Halloween Be A Disaster!

The spookiest night of the year is almost here. Halloween is a fun holiday—for two legs– but this haunted affair can be a disaster for your four legged companions. You know that the scary-looking rowdy crowds who ring your doorbell are just the neighborhood children, but your dog doesn’t. Your dog may be a happy, friendly companion on most occasions, but trick-or-treaters in strange garb can spook him and cause him to dart out when you open the door Stress from a constantly ringing doorbell, knocks at the door, and weird looking strangers at the door create anxiety or fear for most dogs Halloween is the second most common night for dogs to go missing (following the Fourth of July.), so it is important that your dog’s tags are current, with proper identification, just in case there is an inadvertent escape. Please take proper precautions to keep your dog safe on Halloween, as a bite or a missing dog can quickly ruin everyone’s fun.

NEVER leave your dog (or cat) out in the yard. We discourage this any time of year, but especially at Halloween, when pranksters sometimes decide it would be fun to tease an unsupervised animal. Every year there are too many reports of animals that have been terrorized, stolen or even killed. Make a cozy retreat for your dog in a separate room during trick-or-treat hours. Provide a blanket, a favorite toy or two, and play soft music or leave a radio or television on to muffle the holiday noises.

Resist the idea of letting the family dog accompany the kids on their door-to-door begging. Children may have a difficult time handling a pet, and he could get loose, especially if spooked by the strange sights and sounds. Spooky costumes and scary activities can unnerve even the most placid dogs.

Trick or treat candies are not for pets. Candy in general is loaded with sugar and fat, which can lead to serious GI issues and pancreatitis, and all forms of chocolate can be dangerous, even lethal for dogs. Chocolate contains a caffeine-like stimulant substance that, when ingested by your pet, can cause serious problems. ASPCA toxicologists state “Halloween is to veterinarians what April 15 is to accountants. Calls about pets who have become ill after eating candy spike their highest around Halloween.”

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in all kinds of products, including sugar-free candy, gum, and mints. It is also found in many other products including some brands of peanut butter, so beware. Even small amounts of Xylitol are toxic to dogs.

Empty candy wrappers smell like what was in them, which can also attract your dog. If your dog eats foil or cellophane candy wrappers, the result can be a life threatening bowel obstruction requiring surgery.

Some people hand out those little boxes of raisins or small bags of trail mix containing raisins, instead of candy. Unfortunately, raisins are toxic to dogs and ingestion of just a few can potentially cause kidney failure. Chocolate covered raisins pose an even bigger risk.

Lighted candles and jack-o-lanterns should be kept out of reach, since dogs (and cats) could easily knock over a candle or pumpkin, causing burn injuries or even a fire.

Dogs will chew just about anything, and streamers and fake spider webs may cause intestinal blockages if ingested, and electrical cords, if chewed, can damage your pet’s mouth, or deliver a potentially deadly electrical shock.

Costumes can definitely be hazardous to your pet’s health, especially when their range of motion, vision or hearing is restricted by a costume, and buttons, bows and other small accessories can be pulled off and choked on or swallowed. If you dress up your dog, be aware of the possible problems.

This is a good time to discuss with your children or young friends the importance of showing respect toward animals. Encourage them to tell you if they see anyone trying to antagonize an animal. A child who is abusive to animals needs professional help.

Give your dog a haven where he can feel, safe, comfortable, and relaxed—tucked away from any Halloween activities so that you can enjoy the ghoulish and ghosties, long legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night. HAPPY HOWL-O-WEEN!

Halloween Costumes For Your Dog

It is impossible to ignore the fact that pet product marketers have latched onto another moneymaker for themselves—Halloween costumes for the dogs. The pet stores are loaded with really neat outfits, but the fact is that they are a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. (Estimates indicate that more than 70 million dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for companion animals.) According to Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, emergency critical care and toxicology calls to the Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and VPI documents that the average cost for treatment is more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective. Most pets prefer their “birthday suits” , and are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however cute they may be, are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous! As adorable as they are, it is easier than you might think for him to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is to FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but I realize that many caregivers will not heed my advice… many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit… so all I can do is to admonish you to please make sure that the costume is safe, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict his movement, vision, hearing or ability to breathe.

  • Make sure any costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The costume should not constrict the animal’s movement, or his hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the costumes that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Most costumes are made of cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction to it. If you notice him scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction could cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Check to make sure there are no small or dangling accessories that she might chew off and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Some elaborate Halloween costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your dog’s coat, it is easier than you think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, and let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times before you actually put the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear the costume. A festive bandana would make for a happier dog!

Marianne at ASPCA says, “Dogs have beautiful coats of their own, giving them individuality. Man-made coast should be put on animals for protection, when needed, not for the amusement of people. Animals are neither interested or laugh about such nonsense Perhaps we should be more concerned about their feelings, rather than our enjoyment. It is our responsibility to make sure our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare!

 

Howl-o-ween is not fun for most dogs!

Halloween means parties, lots of candy, and fun filled activities for the two legged, but for companion animals it is often a time of anxiety and fright. We encourage all caregivers to adhere to basic safety rules to keep the four-legged safe and stress free.

  1. We recommend never leaving dogs outdoors unattended for extended periods of time, but it is especially important at Halloween when they become easy prey for pranksters who may tease, injure, and even kill pets. We suggest that they be kept inside in a separate room during trick-or-treating visiting hours. Too many strangers dressed in weird outfits can be scary for pets, and it takes only seconds for a frightened animal to dart out. ( Be sure that he has proper identification so that if somehow, he escapes and becomes lost, your chances will be better of his being returned to you.)
  2. Halloween costumes for dogs are bigger business again this year, with all the pet catalogs and pet departments featuring a grand variety of dog outfits. I admit that many of them are really cute, but I remind you that this is a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. Most pets prefer their “birthday suits” instead of wearing a costume that can be stressful and potentially dangerous. My advice again is to forget the costume…dogs are dogs; they do not need to be dressed up, but I realize many caregivers are going to dress up their pets anyway, so PLEASE make sure the costume is safe, and not too uncomfortable!
  3. Keep Halloween candy and edible treats out of your dog’s reach. That bowlful of candy for the trick-or-treaters can be dangerous for animals. Chocolate is extremely toxic to animals, and the foil and cellophane candy wrappers can cause serious problems if ingested, and many sweet treats contain the sweetener xylitol, which can cause serious health problems. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are not necessarily toxic, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset if ingested.
  4. Carved pumpkins are super decorations for the season, but caution is needed if you choose to add a candle. Pets (or small children) can easily knock over a lighted pumpkin and get burned or cause a fire. Dogs seem to have a fascination for wires and cords, so extra caution is needed to keep any cords from electrical decorations out of reach.

Since it is a night for treats, your dog would certainly enjoy some special chews. All you need is a sweet potato and five minutes preparation time for these healthy, inexpensive Sweet Potato Chews:

Sweet Potato Chews:

– Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

– Scrub the sweet potato….don’t even need to peel it.

– Cut it into thin slices…the thinner the slice the crisper it will be…and place in a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

– Bake in the oven for about 3 hours or longer for crunchy treats…or if you have a dehydrator, you can pop them in that instead of the oven.

We encourage parents and teachers to talk to the children about the importance of always showing respect toward their animal friends, and to be especially alert to any friends annoying, harassing, or pulling pranks on them. Ask them to tell you if they see anyone trying to antagonize an animal. A child who is abusive to animals is not just “being a kid”; there is a definite connection between violence toward animals and violence toward fellow humans.

Remember your animals depend on you to keep them safe and sound on this ghost and goblin night, and by using a few common sense cautions, it will be a Happy Howl-o-ween for everyone!!

Enjoy spooky music, chocolate treats and scary movies?

For most of us, Halloween is a festive time with spooky jack-o-lanterns, kids in costumes, and plenty of candy, and money conscious marketing experts are promoting the idea of putting the dogs in costume, and millions of Americans are following their suggestions. All the pet catalogs and pet departments are featuring a grand variety of costumes, and many of them are really cute…hard to resist, but the fact is that they are commercial ventures targeted to gullible humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. Do you really believe that your dog will enjoy wearing cheaply made, ill-fitting, sometimes dangerous clothing? If you are honest, you will probably admit that your dog would be more comfortable in her “birthday suit” than wearing a costume. Our dogs love us and have a deep desire to please…they will do almost anything to gain their humans’ approval, but who benefits from dressing them in costumes? Dogs are dogs, and most of them dislike the confinement of costumes, and dress up is usually a major mess-up for the animals. We encourage you to reconsider before you rush out and spend big bucks (or even little bucks) on that cute costume.

Now for another fact: I realize that many pet parents are going to ignore my suggestion, (some have already purchased the outfit), and so here are a few tips:

  •  Think safety, not cuteness…the costume should not restrict the animal’s movement, vision, or his hearing, and should not impede his ability to breathe or bark. I browsed through some really cute costumes in several pet departments, and almost all of them had small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that the dog could choke on. Buttons, tassels, and ribbons can cause serious intestinal blockage, and poorly fitted outfits can get twisted or caught on external objects.
  • Does your dog have sensitive skin? The synthetic materials found in most of the costumes, besides being uncomfortable, can generate allergic reactions, which will result in an evening of uncomfortable scratching and skin irritations, even with non-allergic dogs.
  • Don’t wait until the BIG NIGHT to try on all costumes…you need to have several dress rehearsals, and if your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, pay attention. If he starts to lick or chew at himself or the costume, it is likely that he is stressed. Sure he looks cute, but forcing him to do something that he does not want to do can result in bad behaviors and future conflicts. Is the “cuteness” worth the price? Wouldn’t he honestly be happier going “au natural”? And if you can’t resist parading her in a costume, never leave her alone. Ridiculously cute can quickly become downright dangerous.

It really is fun browsing through the catalogs and pet departments to see all the unique costumes, but ask yourself what your real motivation is…will your dog be happier with or without a costume? My advice is FORGET THE COSTUME! Your dog will appreciate a decision to settle for a festive collar or a cute bandanna.

Your dog has one aim in life—to bestow his heart… and he asks for little in return.

He may well be the most memorable friend in life,

one who loves you even when you aren’t very lovable.

Without a choice, without a voice,

your dog depends on his humans to make the best decisions for him.

—J.R. Ackerley

 

Countdown to Halloween!

In about two weeks, it will be Trick or Treat Night, a fun time for the human kids, but it can be a scary experience for your animal companion, and although scary is good to your human kids, your dog probably doesn’t understand the difference between “good” scary and “threatening” scary.  As much as you want to include your pets in your own celebration, look at Halloween from your pet’s point of view. There are some very sudden changes in a normally sane household— odd clothing, loud music, and alteration in schedules, and wild excitement. The front door opens and closes a lot and there are unusual sounds, with noisy, costumed strangers appearing…many dogs will feel threatened and may even try to protect you from these intruders, or they may try to decide to just run out and follow the group. Frankly, when it’s Trick or Treat time, most pets prefer a quiet room and a favorite toy. We urge you to NOT plan to include your dog in the festivities, and we really encourage you to NOT rush out and buy a costume for her to wear.

Stores and catalogs are filled with absolutely the cutest pet costumes you could imagine, to make your pooch look spectacular,  and you are probably tempted to spend a few bucks on one, but if you are honest, you will probably admit that your dog would be more comfortable ”au natural”  than she would be wearing a costume. The fact is that if you dress up your dog, it is for humans’ enjoyment, not for the dogs. Dogs are dogs, and most of them dislike the confinement of costumes, and dress-up usually becomes a major mess-up for the animals.

I realize that many pet caregivers are not going to take my advice… some of you have probably already spent more than a few bucks on a super outfit, so here are a few tips:

  • Safety is a major concern when choosing a costume for your dog. It should not restrict his movement, hearing, or vision, and should not hinder his ability to breathe, (almost no costumes that I have seen pass those requirements, and poorly fitting costumes can get twisted or caught on external objects, leading to injuries.)
  • Avoid costumes with dangling or small pieces that could be chewed off. If ingested, buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause serious intestinal blockage.
  • Many dogs have sensitive skin, and even those with heavy coats can have allergic reactions to the synthetic materials found in most costumes. If your dog tries to chew or lick at himself when you put a costume on him, he is likely either stressed or allergic to something in the costume, which will result in an evening of uncomfortable scratching and skin irritations.
  • Don’t wait until the BIG NIGHT to try on the costume.  Schedule several dress rehearsals, and if she seems distressed, pay attention.  Sure she is cute, but is forcing her to do something that she does not want to do really that important to you?

Dogs are dogs, and Halloween is a fright night for most of them anyway, without the added stress of an uncomfortable costume. Unless your dog is HONESTLY one of the few that enjoy “dress up,” my advice is FORGET THE COSTUMES, and if you have already purchased a costume, why not exchange it for a cute bandana or decorative collar. Your dog will be happier and everyone will have a more enjoyable holiday.

 

Happy Halloween!

TRICK-OR-TREATERS, HALLOWEEN PARTIES, AND LOTS OF FUN

Treats, spooky music, and weird costumes will make Halloween lots of fun—for humans! However, this haunted holiday is usually a time of fear and anxiety for your companion animals. Pet catalogs and pet departments are featuring a grand variety of dog costumes, and many of them are really cute, but the fact is that they are commercial ventures targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. Halloween dog costumes have become big business these days, and you may be tempted to spend a few bucks on one, but if you are honest, you will probably admit that your dog would be more comfortable in her “birthday suit” than wearing a costume. Our dogs have a tremendous desire to please their people, and will do almost anything for their humans’ approval, but who benefits from dressing them in costumes? The fact is that if you dress up your dog, it is for human’s enjoyment, not the dogs.

Dogs are dogs, and most of them dislike the confinement of costumes, and dress- up often becomes a major mess-up for the animals. However, I realize that many pet caregivers are going to dress up their pets anyway, so here are a few tips:

  • Safety is the primary concern when choosing a costume. It should not restrict the animal’s movement, hearing, or vision, and should not impede his ability to breathe. (Most of the costumes that I looked at in a local store would hinder an animal’s vision which could be very dangerous.)
  • Avoid costumes with small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that your animal could choke on. If ingested, buttons, ribbons, and tassels can cause serious intestinal blockage, and poorly fitting costumes can get twisted or caught on external objects, which can lead to injury.
  • Some dogs have sensitive skin. Even those with heavy coats can have allergic reactions to the synthetic materials found in most costumes. If your dog starts to lick or chew at himself when you put a costume on him, it is likely that he is stressed or allergic to something in the costume, and the result will be an evening of uncomfortable scratching and skin irritations.
  • Don’t wait until the BIG NIGHT, to try on the costume. Schedule several dress rehearsals, and if your pet seems distressed, pay attention. Even if she looks really cute, forcing her to do something that she does not want to do can result in bad behaviors and future conflicts.
  • Never leave your dog unattended while she’s wearing a costume. She might decide to chew her way out of it, or get caught on something and panic.
  • It is fun to browse through the pet department and see all the unique costumes, but BEFORE you buy, ask yourself: Will my dog be happier with or without a costume? Will it be possible to monitor his reactions while he is costumed? Dogs are dogs, and Halloween is a fright night for them anyway, without the added stress of an uncomfortable costume.
  • DO NOT leave your pet outdoors. We are opposed to caregivers ever leaving their dog outdoors for extended periods of time, but it is especially dangerous on this holiday. There are many stories of pranksters who have teased, stolen, injured, or even killed pets, and veterinarians see a big rise in injuries caused at this time.
  • Be sure your dog wears proper ID just in case she does manage to slip away from you. The chances of recovering a dog without identification are very slim.
  • While it may seem cute to dress up your dog, this activity can be stressful and potentially dangerous. Please don’t force your dog to wear a costume.
  • It is usually unwise to take your pet trick-or-treating. Noisy, rowdy, costumed trick-or-treaters will frighten or intimidate even the most sociable dog. A dog’s hearing is extremely sensitive, and noise anxiety can be a serious problem. It will also be difficult for the children to keep a watchful eye on the pet. LEAVE HIM HOME!
  • Keep all the treats out of reach of your pets. That bowlful of candy for the trick-or-treaters can be dangerous for animals. Chocolate, raisins, and grapes are all poisonous to dogs, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if ingested. Keep any unattended alcoholic drinks out of reach from your pets.
  • Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are not necessarily toxic, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset if swallowed. Intestinal blockage may occur if large pieces are eaten. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, call your veterinarian at once.
  • Decorative carved pumpkins are usually an integral part of the festivities, but be especially careful if you choose to put candles in them. Lighted jack-0-lanterns and candles can quickly singe or set fire to your pet’s hair, and, if knocked over, could cause a fire. It’s best to keep your pets away from all the decorations, because even streamers of colored paper, fake spider webs, and other popular decorations can be dangerous. Since most dogs are fascinated by cords and wires, be sure to keep any cords from electric decorations out of reach.
  • Take time to visit with your children about the importance of showing respect toward animals. Encourage them to be alert to someone harassing, or pulling pranks on dogs or cats on Halloween (or any time!) and to report to you if they see anyone teasing or antagonizing an animal. A child who is abusive to animals needs professional help.

Have fun, but remember that your dog is depending on you to keep him safe from the ghouls and zombies on this holiday Be aware of how your companion reacts to what is going on, and pay attention to ensure that the festivities are fun for both two-legs and four-legs.

My advice is to FORGET the costumes, and settle for a cute bandana or festive collar. Your dog will thank you, and everyone will have a more enjoyable holiday. MAKE SURE YOUR HOWL-OWEEN IS A SAFE ONE Humans understand that the rowdy, scary-looking ghouls and goblins who ring your doorbell on Halloween are just the neighborhood children, but your dog doesn’t. This night of fun is a FRIGHT NIGHT for most of our companion animals. Even the happiest, mellow, four-legged fellow may be spooked by all the kids in strange garb, causing him to dart out when you open the door for trick-or-treaters. We suggest that you keep the dog in a separate room, away from all the noisy confusion. Turn on a radio or the television, and give her a few favorite toys. By using a few common sense tips, you can protect your pet on Halloween.

Have a safe & Happy Halloween!