By Penny Martin
Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year for kids and adults alike. For our pets, however, it can be stressful. Whether you plan on taking the kids around the neighborhood or staying home and handing out candy, you need to consider how your dog will feel about all of the excitement. Here’s how to ensure your pup has a great night.
Tire them out
A tired dog is a good dog. With all of the excitement of Halloween, it’s easy to neglect daily dog walking. Don’t fall into this trap! Taking your dog on a long walk or giving them an hour of intense play will wear them out and most likely make them better-behaved. Halloween night is chaotic - don’t go into it with a dog full of pent-up energy.
If you end up needing to take your dog out for a walk in the dark on Halloween night, make sure you’ve got the right gear. A reflective collar and leash, a flashing beacon, and a flashlight are musts to keep you and your pet safe from vehicles, people, and other pets.
Keep them away from the front door
When it comes to Halloween, the front door is where the majority of the action takes place. You should strongly consider keeping your dog either in the backyard or well inside your home during peak trick-or-treat hours -- for your dog’s own safety and mental well-being. Constant doorbell ringing and child commotion will make even the best-behaved dogs nervous, and you certainly don't want your dog bolting out the door as it constantly opens and closes.
You’re probably thinking, “Hey, my dog is perfectly well-behaved -- she’ll do fine with all of the Halloween commotion.” You may be right. But keeping her away from the action isn’t only about her safety. You also have to think about all of the trick-or-treaters. Many children (and even adults) may be scared or uneasy around dogs -- even the really good ones.
Keep them away from the candy bowl
Dogs and chocolate don’t mix. Dark and baking chocolate are the most toxic, but even the milk chocolate found in most Halloween candies can be very bad (even lethal) for dogs. Try keeping Halloween candy up high or in a container with a lid. It’s not just chocolate, however. A common sweetener found in many candies - xylitol - is incredibly toxic to dogs. “Small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures,” notes PetMD.
Be wary of costumes
Some people love to dress their dogs up in Halloween costumes and for some dogs this isn’t an issue. But you should never force it. Some dogs do not take well to being confined by a costume. If your dog shows any signs of being uncomfortable with their costume, you may want to rethink your plan.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that any dog costume should not restrict “movement, sight, or ability to breathe, bark, or meow.” Masks are particularly problematic because they are worn around the nose and mouth and could interfere with normal breathing. You can still make your dog festive for Halloween with something non-restrictive like a bow, ribbon, or bandana.
Like most holidays, Halloween involves a lot of excitement and rambunctious behavior. This is fun for most humans, but for dogs it can be stressful and scary. On Halloween, it’s best to keep your dog away from the action where they could become frightened and/or endanger themselves. Pick up on your dog’s cues. If they seem unhappy, they probably are.
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