Halloween is an exciting holiday with costumes, candy and more. But with these fun activities come real safety concerns.
During the week of Halloween, calls concerning pets rise by nearly 12 percent. Incidents reported include dogs getting into the collections of confections from Halloween night, uncomfortable costumes, dangerous decorations or even running past the trick-or-treaters out the door.
As you can see, Halloween can pose some serious issues for your furry friends. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to protect your dog during this spooky celebration.
Here are some important tips to keep your pets safe on Halloween:
1. Keep Pets Away from Treats
You may have already known, but chocolate (especially baking or dark chocolate) is poisonous for your dog. Other candies with an artificial sweetener called xylitol have proven to be dangerous. You’ll know if your pup has gotten into any of your Halloween sweets, as the symptoms of chocolate poisoning are easy to notice: vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing and seizures.
Avoid putting candy on the ground or on low tables where it’s easy for your pet to access. Instead, store the candy in safe, sealable containers and place it where your animal can’t reach.
If you are concerned that your pup may have eaten Halloween sweets, call the 24-hr ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435.
2. Use Pet-Safe Decorations
Many dogs each year injure themselves from being naturally curious and investigating our festive candle-lit pumpkins. This can lead the way to wax spilling or a painful burn - neither of which are good news for you, or your pup. A simple solution is to use battery operated candles instead of real flames.
As well as Jack-O-Lanterns, make sure you are mindful of the other decorations inside your home. Keeping glow sticks, fake blood, faux spiders and spider webs out of reach is in your best interest - they are a potential choking risk and may contain chemicals that may be poisonous to your pup.
If you want to decorate a room in which your pet spends a lot of their time, consider using pet-friendly decorations that, in case of an accident, are harmless. Stuffed animals or cardboard decorations are great options that are dog (or cat) friendly!
3. Use Proper Identification
Just in case your pet sneaks out the door, make sure they are properly and easily identifiable to aid in their safe return home. ID tags on their collars or microchipping with up-to-date information will help reunite you with your pet if they run away.
4. Avoid Uncomfortable Costumes
Costumes can be fun - but only if they are comfortable. Make sure that if you are planning to dress your pet in festive attire, that Halloween night is not the first time they’ve been introduced to it.
Like any new food, activity or person - introduce their costume slowly, and if you can, piece by piece. This will help your pup’s comfort levels with their new look, and will add to the festive fun.
5. Keep Your Pet Indoors
The constant opening and closing of doors, ringing of the doorbell and even spooky costumes may cause your dog to panic. Keep your pet indoors - perhaps in a separate room - when the trick-or-treaters start knocking to help ease any aggression or anxiety symptoms.
If you put your pet in a separate room, bring in their food, water and a favorite toy to help them feel more at ease. If you are planning on having guests over for a holiday party, place a small sign on the door to let your guests know that the room is off-limits.
Another thing to note: Halloween may even bring tricksters that might not have the best intentions. Some pet owners have reported their dog being teased, injured or even stolen. Keeping your dog inside can prevent them from becoming a victim of a ill-mannered prank. It’s always better to be on the safe side.
6. De-Stress Your Dog
If your dog is more aggressive or anxious than normal - especially with the extra noise of trick-or-treating guests, essential oils can be an option that may help soothe a panicked dog.
If your dog is in a separate room, try putting on a sound machine or the television to create background noise. This may prove to be just the distraction that your furry friend needs.
You can also distract your dog from the commotion by getting them a nice bone or treat, so they're not so focused on your sweets.
7. Create a “Safe Space”
Is your dog crate or kennel-trained? If the answer is yes, they may find their crate to be a “safe space” amidst all the chaos and noise that Halloween brings. It can help your dog feel secure and keep them from getting loose, preventing any potential incidents with people coming to your door.
8. Keep Your Pet on a Leash
If you do choose to let your dog out, or to come with you on your neighborhood candy run, keep them on a leash. This way you’ll have better control over any energy burst that may occur.
Halloween is an extremely fun (and spooky) time of year! Keep the spook in the costumes and the scare away from your pets with these practical pet safety tips, and you’re sure to be in for many more treats than tricks!