Nothing is cuter than dressing up your pets for Halloween, especially if it’s a themed costume to match your kids. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the holiday and forget that Halloween comes with some dangers and uneasiness for household pets.
Following are four smart tips to help keep your pets safe and calm on this favorite fall holiday.
1. Costume Caution
It’s tempting to want to dress up your pet for Halloween or incorporate them into a theme along with your children. While it’s always encouraged to have your pets join family fun, it’s wise to only dress pets in a costume if they have a personality that will embrace the festivities. Anxious pets or pets that don’t like clothing in general will feel stressed and anxious in a costume. If you decide to dress up your pet, look for folded-down ears, looking sideways, or a tucked tail — all signs of uneasiness that means you should remove the costume. If you do proceed with a costume, be sure to closely inspect it for gems, bows, buttons, or other small parts that could be bitten off and swallowed. In addition, a pet costume should not inhibit their ability to walk, run, lay down, or breathe easily.
2. Stress Reducers
Pets are territorial creatures and, therefore, naturally react to every knock on the front door or every ring of the doorbell. When this happens repeatedly throughout Halloween, pets are bound to become stressed and anxious.
Consider the following tips to keep your pet calm through door knocks and doorbells:
- Place candy for trick-or-treaters outside your front door in a bowl to avoid constant doorbell ringing.
- Put your pet in their crate with their favorite toys and some treats, as far away from the front door as possible. Turn on the television or music to distract them from front door activity.
- If crating your pet is not an option, take them to an upstairs bedroom with toys and treats and check on them often.
3. Candy Precautions
Halloween is synonymous with candy, some of which can be dangerous for pets. Chocolate, gum, and raisins are hazardous to pets and can even prove to be fatal if consumed at a certain volume. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, xylitol is also extremely dangerous to dogs, and this sweetener is common in sugar-free gum and candy. Also, be cautious of candy wrappers, which pets are attracted to due to the lingering scent. They are not digestible and can become lodged in their intestinal tract and cause an obstruction.
Follow these tips to ensure your pets don’t have access to Halloween candy:
- Store it in a high kitchen cabinet behind a closed door.
- Educate children about the dangers of candy for pets so they don’t leave anything lying around, or worse, feed their pets some of their candy.
- On Halloween, keep the candy outside the front door so there’s no risk your pet will have access to it while unattended.
4. Leave Pets Home for Trick-or-Treating
If you have a dog, you’ll likely want to take them along for trick-or-treating with the kids. However, the darkness combined with streets full of kids in costumes might make them anxious. There’s also a chance your dog will find dropped candy on the street or sidewalk, which you might miss them eating, considering the darkness and chaos of Halloween. If you do attempt to take your dog trick-or-treating and they immediately start barking and pulling on their leash towards other children, turn around and bring them home.
Life Is Gourd
Halloween is a favorite holiday among families, but it’s also a holiday that requires precautions for pets. Between a constant flow of trick-or-treaters, uncomfortable and potentially dangerous costumes, and the temptation of candy, Halloween is a holiday that is safer when pets are removed from most of the festivities. While it’s hard to leave your beloved family companion out of all the fun, it’s usually in their best interest to make it a quiet, at-home night for them.
In the off chance that your dog does get into the Halloween candy, call your veterinarian right away, as prompt treatment leads to a more favorable outcome. Do not wait until the following morning!
The AVMA offers a few additional tips for keeping your pets safe this coming Halloween. Contact us if you would like to learn more about holiday safety for your pets.