It’s that time of year and all the good little furry ghouls and goblins are getting ready for the night the doorbell rings incessantly. While some dogs enjoy a good game of dress-up for the festivities, Halloween actually poses some risks for dogs–second only to 4th of July according to experts. So is Halloween safe for dogs? It can be, with some purposed precautions.
According to animal experts, Halloween runs second only to the 4th of July with regard to being an unsafe holiday for dogs. The reasoning behind both holidays being a bit risky for our furry best friends is similar–there’s often lots of chaos and doors opening and closing and people milling around and dogs get antsy. Throw in the fact that their hoomans are putting them in costumes they may not be comfortable in, and it’s easy to see why some wonder if Halloween is safe for dogs.
The good news is that as long as you’re aware of risks, and take steps to mitigate them, you can have a night that’s safe for you AND your best friend.
Why dressing your dog for Halloween may not be the best idea
A recent survey found that over 75% of pet parents planned to dress their pets up for Halloween. The last couple of years have changed the landscape of Halloween some, with pet parents more attached than ever to their furbabies, and including them in more events and activities.That’s good news, unless you’re a dog that doesn’t necessarily love getting dressed up. There’s research that suggests that dogs can feel embarrassed or even silly, and this may stem from wearing costumes that everyone oogles at. Not to mention, some Halloween costumes for dogs weren’t exactly created for the most comfort of your dog, and that #dogcostume snap for Insta may make them really uncomfortable.
Experts recommend that unless your dog is familiar with wearing clothing or costumes, they may become uncomfortable and stressed if you dress them up. Look for their signs of stress, which include excessive licking, shaking their heads or bodies excessively and trying to constantly get out of their costume. That’s a serious one to watch out for, because there is danger in getting caught up in the costume if they struggle too hard, and they could seriously hurt themselves.
Keep candies and treats away
Emergency room vets say that they see far too many accidents during the Halloween season. Too often, dogs will get into the Halloween candies or treats, many of which include chocolate, xylitol sweeteners and raisins. If your dog ingests anything with raisins or xylitol, it could be deadly (very quickly, too) and you need to contact your vet immediately. To make Halloween safe for dogs, it’s best to just keep all candies and treats out of your dog’s accessibility, and you’d be wise to be careful about treats like pumpkin breads or cookies. While pumpkin is a superfood for dogs (and one of Bernie’s Perfect Poop’s fabulous ingredients), treats at Halloween may include ingredients that can make your dog very sick.
Halloween decor may not be safe for dogs
One of the most fun parts of Halloween is the lighted Jack-o-Lanterns.
Unfortunately, for dogs, that’s also one of the most unsafe things for dogs at Halloween. Too often, they can wag their tails and get burnt, or worse, knock candles over and more things end up being burnt. It’s a good rule of thumb to just not use lit candles if your doggo is going to be around, particularly if they go crazy around the doorbell ringing. Experts believe that’s the best way to avoid anything catching on fire unexpectedly.
Be sure your dog is identifiable
Second only to the 4th of July, Halloween is a horrible holiday for dogs getting lost. The doorbells ringing over and over, strange people coming and going from the door and the chaos of a neighborhood full of people unrecognizable due to their costumes can put your dog over the edge and make him want to bolt. If you decide to let your dog be a trick-or-treater greeter, make sure they’re on a leash and they have a collar or other identifiable gear on just in case they get loose.
If you’re planning to take your best friend out to stroll the ‘hood, a harness isn’t a bad idea because it’ll allow you more control and your dog to feel more secure as he may encounter things that could spook him. Those motion-activated clowns or witches on the front porch are great for being festive, but enough to make a dog do a tuck and run away from you if you’re not careful.
Be in tune with your dog
The best way to judge whether Halloween is safe for dogs is to watch them carefully. You know your dog best. You know when they are uncomfortable or stressed, and you usually know when they’ve reached their limit. Pay attention to your dog and make sure he’s not anxious or stressing about all that’s going on at that party or when Trick-or-Treaters hit your door. If you feel it’s too much, it likely is, and letting him have some time to be away from the chaos in the comfort of his own bed/crate is likely what’s going to be safest for your good boy or girl.
Halloween can be safe for dogs, and even downright fun, but you want to make sure that you’re paying attention to their cues and not putting them in situations that make them uncomfortable or present dangers to them. It’s always a good idea to have the Pet Poison Hotline website and number available just in case!