Halloween is a great time for children. They get to dress up and collect oodles of sweets. But it is not a great time for pets. Our dogs face particular dangers in October, and the closer we get to the big day, the greater those dangers are. It’s important to be proactive to ensure that our dogs get through this season safely. Here’s a run down of some of the biggest risks and how to safely navigate them.
Stress is the root of most problem behaviour in dogs. Stress leads to incessant barking, peeing in the house and inappropriate chewing. But October is full of things that cause stress to our pets. Bangers are the chief culprit. Dogs have no ability to understand or predict those sudden, scary noises. And if it sounds loud to you, imagine how it sounds to your dog with his keen hearing. He can also smell more than we can, and that will add to his distress when bangers are let off.
Exercise helps all of us manage anxiety better. Taking your dog out for extra long walks early in the day can help him stay calm when the bangers start later. Some extra attention and pets will remind him that you will keep him safe from what sounds to him like World War III outside. Because some dogs chew when they are stressed, this is a good time to give him some new chewy toys. Leaving the radio on can help muffle the noise of bangers outside. And if none of that is enough, talk to your vet about pheromones or medication to help your dog through the Halloween season.
Because your dog thinks the house is under attack from all those explosions, he might try to run away. This is a good time of year to inspect walls, fences and gates to ensure your dog can’t get out. When the trick-or-treaters come, secure your dog in another room so he can’t bolt out the door past him. Check his tag too. Does it have your current phone and address on it, and is it easy to read?
To be extra safe, take some clear photos and make sure your details are up to date on your dog’s microchip – just in case he does escape despite your best efforts. This is not the time to let your dog run off lead. If your dog goes missing, time is of the essence. Contact your local dog warden and provide a photo immediately. Get the word out on social media, and begin searching. Bring some treats and a comfort item such as a favourite toy or a blanket from your dog’s bed to encourage him to come out of hiding.
At Halloween, we tend to have a lot of extra chocolate around the house. We stock up to hand it out to trick or treaters. And if we have children, they will bring home plenty of sweet loot. It is critical to keep all sweets, especially chocolate, out of the dog’s reach. That’s another reason to confine your dog to a room away from the front door on the night. Explain to children that chocolate will make their dog very sick, and that it isn’t possible to hide chocolate from dogs because they can smell it even if they can’t see it. And unless it is up high in a press, they can get to it. It’s very easy for children to get so excited about the holiday that they forget normal rules, so parents must be extra vigilant.
Enjoying a Safe Halloween with Your Dog
Halloween isn’t all gloom and terror for dogs. Every dog is different. Some really aren’t very bothered by the extra noise and fuss. Some dogs are naturally more social and outgoing than others. So you can include your dog in some parts of your Halloween festivities.
If your dog is used to wearing a coat, he might not mind a simple costume. And he might love the attention. But do think carefully about choosing a safe costume. It should not have any parts that can be easily chewed off, trip him or tangle around his feet. Any part that sticks out away from his body and into his line of vision might upset him. The costume should not restrict his movement or limit his vision. Your dog can and probably will lick off any face paint or fake blood. While these are non-toxic, they can still upset his stomach and cause vomiting if he gets enough of them.
It is a good idea to let him try it on for short periods before the big day. If he hates it, forcing him to wear it is unkind. But if he is comfortable with it and enjoys attention, he might like to wear it for his walks. Just be sure no one slips him a chocolate. Remember to keep the human costumes out of your dog’s reach too, to protect both the dog and the costumes.
Halloween is a time for treats, and it’s no harm to give your dog a few special treats too – as long as they are safe and appropriate. You can give him treats that are more than just tasty. Connolly’s RED MILLS Leader Oral Pro Dental Sticks are actually good for your dog’s teeth, which is more than we can say about the sweets we’ll be enjoying!
- family pet
- pet tips and tricks