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.
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!!