Boo! Who doesn’t love Halloween? Fun costumes, candy, happy kids and Trick-or-treating. While it is typically fun for most of the family, it can be a living nightmare for the dog.
The days leading up to Halloween can see odd decorations appear on your street. If this is your pup’s first Halloween, pay particular attention that they aren’t frightened by the appearance of Jack-O-Lanterns and skeletons. For seasoned veterans, they may not even notice, but an older dog with failing vision may become frightened by new haunts in the neighbourhood.
Jack-O-Lanterns can cause issue with dogs who are attracted to the smell of pumpkin. Watch out for lit candles inside! Never let you dog roam the neighbourhood unsupervised as they could cause burns and trauma or even start a fire if they knock a candle over. Never leave a Jack-O-Lantern where your dog may get into it.
When Halloween night arrives, some dogs will be thrilled to have any and all visitors at the door regardless of their attire while others may find elaborate costumes frightening. They may panic or even bite, so take some time to come up with a Halloween night trick-or-treat plan.
Even if your dog is likely to be happy with anyone who comes to the door, the constant door opening coupled by the human’s preoccupation with costumes and candy could result in the dog sneaking out the door and being lost in the commotion. Having a baby gate or x-pen in place to keep the dog safely inside, but still part of the festivities is a good idea.
Fearful dogs could panic and hurt themselves or one of your guests trying to keep themselves safe. If the dog is unsure or likely to be frightened, be certain that they have a safe haven away from the excitement at the door. If possible, provide some music or television noise to help drown out the chime of the door bell and squeals of kids having fun. Give them something special to keep them occupied – a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or Cheese Whiz is usually a safe chew for an unsupervised dog.
Once the commotion is over and the last trick-or-treater has returned home, there are still lingering dangers for the dog. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, calls during the week of Halloween increase by 12%. One of the most common questions is whether chocolate is really poisonous for dogs. The answer is yes! Dogs cannot metabolize chocolate as humans can and the methylxanthines (specifically caffeine and theobromine), which are highly present in dark chocolate, can cause poisoning and death in pets. Just one ounce of Bakers chocolate can cause poisoning in a 50 pound dog. Milk chocolate has a much lower concentration of methylxanthines, but still poses a danger in large quantity.
Other Halloween dangers for pets include ingestion of candy wrappers, costume pieces and glow sticks. Be sure these are all kept well out of reach of curious pets.
This Halloween, have a plan and be diligent to ensure your pets are kept safe and sound!
24/7 Pet Poison Control Helpline: 1-800-213-6680