By Kelley Kombrinck
Fall is in full swing and soon the streets will be filled with pumpkins, spooky yard decorations and costumed candy-seekers. Halloween is right around the corner and what could be more fun than enjoying the Autumn holiday with your sweet fur friend? After all, most dogs enjoy being outside, they love treats and frolicking with kids. It’s a perfect night to spend some quality time with your pooch, but we always want to make sure that they are also safe and happy. We are going to talk about some ways to enjoy a fun and safe Halloween with your dog.
When those first chilly breezes of Fall start to blow, and the leaves begin changing colors, many of us get very excited at the prospect of decorating our houses and yards for Halloween, and Autumn in general. If we have furry little curiosity machines, however, we should try to decorate with them in mind.
- Pumpkins—There is maybe no image more associated with Halloween than the Jack ‘O Lantern and carving up pumpkins and setting them out is a tradition for many families. Pumpkins in and of themselves can be good for digestion when prepared properly, but Jack ‘O Lanterns can be problematic. The biggest issue with Jack ‘O Lanterns is the lit candle that many people put inside the gourd. An excitable or curious dog could easily get singed by poking around to investigate or by knocking the pumpkin over. This could not only be dangerous for your pet but depending on where you’ve placed your Jack ‘O Lantern, could cause other fire related issues. Consider using battery powered artificial candles if you are placing your pumpkins somewhere your dog can get to, or if you want to use a real candle, maybe positioning it out of the way of any furry little explorers. In addition to the fire hazard, while pumpkin is not harmful to dogs, if they bite large chunks off a carved pumpkin, they may not be chewed very well and could cause blockages.
- Corn Cobs—Another very popular element in many Fall decorations are dried corn cobs. Like pumpkins, corn is not toxic to dogs, but corn cobs are indigestible and can cause stomach issues that are very uncomfortable and possibly serious. Try to keep corn cob elements out of reach.
- Artificial Webbing—Fake spiderwebs festooned across rooms and trees and porch railings are a common sight throughout the month of October. If you have a dog that likes to chew or nibble, you may want to skip the webbing or keep it well out of their reach. It is completely indigestible and could cause very serious intestinal problems or choking.
- Electric Lights and Effects—If you plan on hanging lights or using sound or fog effects, be mindful of your dog’s habits and temperament. Try to keep wires hidden away, sometimes animals may chew on them and this can cause electric shock. Lights and sound effects can also be confusing and alarming for more sensitive dogs and could even potentially incite them to run from the yard. Know your pupper and decorate accordingly.
There are few things in this world cuter than a fuzzy little puppy dressed up as a bee, or a devil or a superhero, but dogs in general don’t seem to love wearing clothes. This isn’t necessarily true of all dogs, but before putting a costume on your pet, make sure they love wearing it. From an article on www.aspca.org
“If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.”
Make sure you’ve had your pet try on their costume a few times before putting it on them for an extended period of time to make sure that they aren’t behaving in an unusual manner or trying to let you know, “hey, I’m not into this.” If you notice anything to suggest they are less than thrilled with the situation, put the costume away and maybe find a bandana, special collar or just have them go au naturel.
Trick or Treating
Many dogs love the crisp, cool air of Autumn and love running around without getting overheated. They also often enjoy being around kids and their playful energy. On a night like Halloween though, it is very easy for our furry friends to become overstimulated, overwhelmed and anxious with the amount of people they are encountering.
Walking down crowded sidewalks after dark with a throng of excited, shouting, costumed children and their harried parents can cause a lot of undue stress. If you plan to take your dog out trick or treating with you and your family, make sure they are leashed and that you’re paying attention to their mood. If you already know you have a nervous doggo, perhaps leave them indoors till you return, or with another family member who is passing out candy.
If they are staying home and sitting outside with you to greet trick or treaters, they can also become easily confused and even frightened by the “scary” costumes and the number of strangers approaching their house. They may bark and whine or try to hide. They may want to run off somewhere and hide or even get nervous and nippy. Pay close attention to them, and if your fur baby is getting stressed, maybe let them into the house till trick or treating is over.
The biggest and most obvious thing in terms of dog safety at Halloween is, of course, avoiding candy and specifically chocolate. In our March 16th blog post (which you can read HERE) we talked about some foods that dogs can’t eat. Of course, chocolate is well known as being extremely toxic to dogs, but there are also several nuts, spices and artificial sweeteners that are harmful to dogs as well. Keeping candy out of the reach of dogs is vitally important, especially during a holiday where sweets are at the center of activity. If you have bowls of candy out for guests and droppers-by, make sure they are well covered or put away when you are not around.
In addition to the candy itself, candy wrappers are also dangerous for dogs. They are so tempting because of the sweet smell, but foil and plastic ingested by your sweet little pup can cause all kinds of serious digestive harm, not to mention the remnants of sugar and chocolate that are still on the wrapper. Be sure everyone is disposing of their candy garbage properly and not leaving wrappers lying around where a sniffing doggo can find them (and they can find them anywhere).
Halloween is a great fun time for families to enjoy and get excited about. The best way to have a fun and safe Halloween with your dog is just to remember they need our help avoiding those things that are so tempting to them but could hurt them. Taking these steps will help ensure that every Halloween is a good time, not just for your human family members, but for your four legged fur babies too.
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