October is Spooky Season for humans and dogs alike! To help you through this month of trick-or-treats we have put together some tips for you.
Make sure your dog has a collar with identifiers. There are many options from information embroidered into the collar itself, to tags which hang, or your information engraved on the collar's buckle. No matter what you choose, make sure your dog has their information easily accessible. During trick-or-treating, many dogs end up escaping through open doors and having this information on your pet will heighten their chances of coming home. Having your dog microchipped definitely helps too, since shelters and vet clinics can scan your dog and find your information.
Costumes can be stressful and scary (not in the fun way). If you'd like your dog to wear a costume, make sure you purchase it far in advance and introduce it to your dog slowly. Letting them get used to the costumes over the entire month will ensure that your dog is comfortable with the feel of their costume and maybe even enjoy wearing it. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Beads, snaps, buttons, ribbons, elastic and fabric can all be intestinal hazards. Costumes on your dog can result in overheating, impaired vision, and even difficulty breathing if it covers the face or is too restrictive around your dog’s neck or chest. Poorly fitting costumes can get twisted on things in their environment or your dog, leading to injury. Never leave your dog unattended while they are wearing clothing or other decorative items.
Beware Jack-o-lanterns! Dogs can sometimes be clumsy and they may accidently knock over a jack-o-lantern. They can create tripping or slipping hazards (if they break) which can risk other trick-or-treaters. Often, they are lit with candles, which can set your dog's costume, decorations or parts of the environment on fire.
Keep that candy away from your dog! Everyone knows that chocolate is poisonous for our pets, but many other candies also pose a risk to your fuzzy friend. Many candies have artificial sweeteners like Xylitol (also called birch sugar) and they are not labeled with this information. Some people give out other goodies like raisins and grapes which are dangerous to dogs and can cause renal failure. Be sure that you keep raisins out of your dog’s reach at all times. Don't forget that dogs will eat empty candy wrappers which may cause blockages in their stomach or intestines.
Glow Sticks are a no go! While glow sticks are super helpful for parents to keep track of their children, they can look like chew toys to your dog. Glow-in-the-dark items are filled with a liquid that if punctured, will leak the glowing content which if ingested, causes mouth pain, irritation, and excessive salivation.
Beware the decor! Changes to your home can make your dog nervous or frightened. They may decide those fake spiders pose an existential threat and need to be killed. Be aware of which decorations pose threats. Some hazards are obvious, like lit candles (fire hazards and toxic to birds if scented). Other potentially dangerous decorations include rubber eyeballs (choking risk) and fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets and wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds) and strung lights.
Know your dog! Even the best-behaved dogs can become skittish or overwhelmed. Know your dog and watch their body language to decide if it is better that they be tucked away in a crate or a quiet room as opposed to joining the family for Trick-or-Treating, greeting the costumed neighbors or participating in a Halloween party. To prevent your dog from running out, make sure they are under control as you open the door for trick-or-treaters. We also do not recommend leaving your dog outside in the yard, as the spooky season comes with some weird sounds from animatronics and children alike! Additionally, there are plenty of stories of vicious pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, even killed pets on Halloween. If you have a nervous pup, consider investing in some calming treats and give them to your dog about an hour before the activity begins.
With these tips, we hope you and your dog have a safe and fun spooky season!