Is Halloween A Trick or a Treat for Your Dog?
When I was in first or second grade I dressed up as a green crayon for Halloween. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but as you can tell from the picture, I was ecstatic. A few years ago, I was pursuing TJ Maxx and found a doggie green crayon costume. It was destiny, Dustin for sure needed it. And, as you may be able to tell from the picture, he was not quite as excited as 7-year-old me was.
Halloween is lots of fun for us humans, but for most dogs it can be very scary and there are also several hidden dangers. Keep reading to discover tricks you can use to keep your dog safe on Halloween.
We love them, dogs hate them. That’s right, I’m talking about Halloween costumes. I am not saying that you should not get your dog a cute costume, but if you do dress your dog up be understanding of the fact that they probably do not like it. If you must dress your dog up (and I have plenty of times!), put it on, get some cute pictures, and then take it off. If you would like your dog to wear a costume for a longer period of time something simple like a decorated t-shirt, or bandana might be more appropriate.
Here are three fun Halloween bandanas that will help your dog feel like a fashionista:
Now, as much as I enjoyed my crayon costume, it is likely that most dogs would not appreciate it. Most Halloween costumes are terrifying for our dogs. They are not used to seeing people covered in blood, with make up and masks, and with all the other decorations we adorn ourselves with on Halloween. Instead of seeing their friendly neighbor, they see the ax sticking out of his head, and they are smart enough to know to high-tail it outta there. If you notice your dog scared of a person in a costume do not force them to approach or interact, do not tease them, and if you can try to introduce your own costume one piece at a time so they see you slowly getting ready.
Most festive Halloween treats and candies are dangerous for our dogs. Even small amounts of ingredients such as chocolate, xylitol, nuts, and grapes or raisins can be life-threatening. If your dog does accidentally eat something, you can call the ASPCA poison control at (888) 426-4435. There is usually a $65 fee for the service, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry! They will advise if your dog should be fine or if your dog might need to see the vet. There are several 24/hour emergency vet options available in NYC.
Be sure to keep all Halloween candy out of reach of your pooch. A sealed Tupperware container, a closed closet, or a high shelf are perfect hiding places. Also watch them carefully on walks the couple of days following Halloween to make sure they do not eat anything off the ground.
You can print this image and hang it on your fridge to always have the ASPCA poison control information handy.
A lot of the decorations and things that we find fun about Halloween are very very scary to your dogs. Do not have them interact with things that jump out or will suddenly startle them. Do not tease them with things that they are scared of. It is not nice, and worse, can result in long-lasting behavioral problems.
On Halloween night while everyone is running around in their costumes and trick-or-treating keep your dog’s walk short and sweet. Get them their long exercise walk early in the day, and give them a shorter potty walk in the afternoon and evening. If your dog is itching for something to do, play some inside games with them, give them some puzzle toys, do some tricks, training, play with a flirt pole, or play fetch inside.
Scary: Trick or Treaters
Many dogs find the constant doorbell ringing, scary costumes, masks, and Halloween activities to be scary. Before trick or treaters begin arriving, you should have a game plan ready to keep your dog safe and sane. Loading up on edible chews such as bully sticks, no hide chews, and a few prepped Kongs is a good way to ensure a less scary, and more fun night for everyone. Also, be sure you do not have your dog at the door greeting the trick or treaters as they arrive.
Dangerous: Getting Lost
Accidentally escaping through an open front door is a serious risk for your dog's safety. It can happen in a split second. Be sure your dog is wearing an up-to-date ID tag so that if anything happens, you can be reunited easily.
To prevent an accidental escape, you can have your dog in another room with the door closed, erect a baby gate that keeps them from coming to the front door, or you can meet trick or treaters outside, so the door is not constantly opening.
If you foresee having difficulties implementing these strategies, Talk to your vet, if your dog has a history of finding Halloween incredibly difficult, schedule a visit with your vet and see if there is some type of short term anti-anxiety medication they can prescribe to help your dog cope better with such a scary and dangerous night.
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