Halloween safety for pets includes preventing risks caused by dangerous foods, loud noises and scary costumes.
Halloween Safety For Pets and Fun for Kids
Halloween is a fun time for many little kids (and big kids too); however, it can be a dangerous and unpleasant time for your dogs. Frightened animals often respond in one of 2 ways: escape or aggression. The former can result in a lost or injured dog; the latter can result in an injured person (which could bring about legal issues for the owners and health issues for the injured). Please review the following information and take it into consideration when planning your festivities for the season.
- Halloween Costumes: Dogs do not understand the costume issue. They are often not able to differentiate real from costume and they may get very frightened. They instinctually want to protect the family from strangers, and strangers often don’t get any stranger than the many costumed kids on Halloween!
- Halloween Preparation: Before wearing your costumes, let your dog take a whiff or two to get used to the scent. Also do not put your mask on around your dog as they may feel threatened and bite someone trying to protect themselves or the family.
- Halloween Fear: Try to act normally when they are scared about the Halloween activities. They may sense your attempt at over reassuring them that there really IS something to fear and you may get the opposite effect for which you were striving.
- Kenneling: In order to limit the tendency for your dog to be aggressive with strangers or the tendency to run from the house in fear from all of the strange noises, people, and incessant doorbell ringing it is best to keep them indoors (even if you have a fenced yard) often in a separate room. If they have a kennel that they often use, then placing them in the kennel is a good plan too. If you have a primarily outdoor dog, you may want to have them in for a few hours each night for several nights prior to Halloween to get them used to being indoors.
- Pet Sedatives: If your pet has extreme anxiety (as in thunderstorms, etc.) you may need to check with your veterinarian to see if a sedative is both indicated and safe for your dog.
- Dog Collar Identification: Be sure your dog has a collar with identification just in case they do get out despite all of your efforts to keep them inside and safe. Microchipping is an even better long term option.
- Fire Hazards: Jack-o-lanterns are also a lot of fun, but they can be hazardous with a dog around as well. They may get their tail in the candle, or knock it over causing a fire hazard for your house. A safer choice would be a battery operated fake candle or light.
- Dog Costume: Be very careful about putting your dog in a costume of their own. They may be cute, but many dogs do not like it and may injure themselves trying to get out of the costume. Others may chew parts off and swallow them which could cause a blockage later. If your dog shows any resistance, the safest thing is to let them go as a dog for Halloween!
- Chocolate Toxicity and Candy Xylitol Toxicity in Pets: Many people understand that chocolate is poisonous in dogs, but many candies, especially sugar-free candies, have an artificial sweetener that can lead to xylitol toxicity in pets. The xylitol sweetener can cause a life-threatening drop in their blood sugar that can usually only be remedied by hospitalization, IV fluids and IV medications.
- Halloween Candy Hazards: Large amounts of candy can cause severe stomach and intestinal upset or even pancreatitis (Inflammation) in dogs. These can cause symptoms ranging from nausea and loss of appetite to uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea. Any of these if severe enough can lead to death.
- Halloween Candy Wrapper Hazards:The wrappers can also wad up in the intestines or stomach and cause a blockage as well.
- Leash Advice: If you decide to take your dog with you, remember this may make them more afraid of strangers and that fear may cause problems well beyond Halloween. If you do take them, make sure the leash is held well (preferably by an adult) and that the harness or collar is tight enough that they cannot back out of it. Retractable leashes are not a good idea as there is too much lead and it makes them harder to control. The excess leash can easily tangle up legs and trip people resulting in injury.
- Stranger Danger: Also instruct your children not to approach other dogs (even if they know them) without the owner’s permission or while in costume. The dog may not recognize them and your child very well might get bitten.
Halloween can be dangerous and scary for dogs, but it doesn’t have to be if you consider taking the above steps. (And in keeping with the spirit of the season, there are 13 tips on purpose!)
See other Pet Health Warnings.
If you would like to learn more about dog paw care and paw injury treatment from the Plantation Pet Health Center, please call 972-731-0001 to schedule an appointment or complete an Online Appointment Request.