Halloween is a fun and festive time for the whole family. Trick-or-treating, costumes, and plenty of decorations fill neighborhoods across the country. But, it can also be a difficult time for dogs and their owners because the holiday can add a lot of unexpected stressors.
Depending on your dog’s personality, you might want to secure them in a quiet room or keep them away from the door. If you do let your dog roam free, there are a few things to think about to keep them safe on this spooky day.
Let’s review the possible hazards to consider and prepare to keep your canine safe on this festive yet frightening holiday.
It’s Halloween, so your dogs get a pass on the embarrassment factor this time. But try to make sure that they don’t completely hate their outfit and can at least deal with it for a few hours. If the costume causes pup any discomfort or irritates their skin, you might want to pass on it.
Try the costume on a few days before Halloween, so you know that everything fits well, and you can get your dog used to wearing it. While you’re putting the outfit on, be sure to offer plenty of treats so they know they are doing a good thing. If at any point you think the costume causes pain or discomfort, take it off immediately.
Top Halloween Costumes For Dogs
Are you looking for some inspiration for your pet on what to dress up as this year? Here are some of this year’s trendiest costumes that are sure to make your pup the cutest on the block!
Trick Or Treating
While walking in neighborhoods, kids can drop candy as they make their way around. If found, this can be a hazard to your dog’s health. Additionally, if you live in a community with a lot of trick-or-treaters, take a walk through your yard the morning after Halloween to pick up any candy, costume materials, or glow sticks that might have gotten dropped the night before.
If a dog consumes any chocolate, including dark chocolate, they can suffer a potentially fatal poisoning and require emergency medical attention. Chocolate is terrible, but many sugary candies also contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in baking that can also be toxic to dogs. Ingesting this substitute causes a rapid drop in blood sugar followed by liver failure.
If your dog consumes chocolate, it is best to call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center right away for advice on how to proceed. They might tell you to take the pup to an emergency room or watch them closely for any reactions.
Chocolate contains two toxic components: caffeine and theobromine. Both increase the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system. How sick your dog becomes from ingesting chocolate depends on how much it ate and its weight.
A mini candy bar is not likely to kill a large dog, but a full-size candy bar is. Certain types of chocolate are also more dangerous than others. Cocoa powder contains the highest concentration of theobromine, so you never want your dog to have anything containing that ingredient.
Pups & Kids
It might seem silly, but Halloween is not always about candy and fun. For some kids, it’s about pranks, and you do not want your dog to become the victim of a cruel and reckless joke.
If your pup is out in your yard, be sure to keep an eye on them at all times, especially if people are coming to pet him. Your dog might love all the attention, but not everyone has good intentions with animals. If your pup does have a costume on, make sure that no one is misbehaving, and check on your canine frequently to make sure that nothing has shifted and he is still okay. It’s imperative to watch your dog if you have a senior dog or one who suffers from anxiety because loud noises are more likely to startle them.
Glow sticks can be helpful in keeping people safe by identifying their location so cars can maneuver around them. That said, glow sticks can be a problem for dogs if they chew and break them open.
So long as the liquid inside is non-toxic, it will not severely endanger your pup, but it still might make them sick. This is when you should call your vet to check on what to do next. If your dog consumes too much of the liquid, he might start drooling and eventually vomit.
Keep Your Dog Indoors
The best bet would be to keep your dog away from the action in a quiet room where he can be comfortable and not worry about people trespassing in his space, especially if he hasn’t been properly socialized.
Remember that dogs can also become frightened by unusual costumes and unexpected noises, leading to unexpected aggression. The last thing you want is your dog chasing “Freddy Krueger” down the street. If you are unsure how your pup will behave on Halloween, it’s best to keep them away and play it safe.
If They Run Away
It’s devastating to think of our dog running away and getting lost. And, if your dog gets out on Halloween, it’s more challenging to get them home with so many people, lights, and distractions. This combination can become disorienting, and a pup that once knew the neighborhood can find itself completely lost.
Here are a few things you should do if your dog runs out and does not return immediately:
- Contact local authorities: The Humane Society says the first thing you should do is contact your area’s animal shelters and control agencies. If you do not have a local shelter, contact the police department, and they should be happy to help you search. Describe your dog as accurately as possible and supply plenty of photographs.
- Keep searching: Never give up your search. Keep walking and driving around your neighborhood and talk to as many people as possible. You can also post in your neighborhood group on Facebook, NextDoor, or other platforms. Hand out flyers with your pup’s picture on them to mail carriers and delivery drivers as well.
- Advertise: Go to places that offer free advertising boards like grocery stores, pet retailers, restaurants, and schools. Put up pictures of your dog with plenty of information about their size, breed, color, sex, age, etc. Be sure to post many around the area you last saw them. If at any point you think someone might have stolen your dog, contact the local police to make them aware of the situation.
While battery-powered or corded decorations are safer than having open flames, they still can pose a risk to your pets. Dogs are known to chew on cords, which can cause a severe electric shock or burn. If the decoration is battery-powered, it might have one large single-cell battery or a few small AA or AAA batteries. If your dog chews and swallows these, it could cause severe stomach lacerations.
Getting A Burn
You may be able to treat a light burn at home, but be sure to consult with your vet before you decide on a treatment plan. Severe burns require medical attention. Let’s talk about the different kinds of burns and how you can tell when one merits an emergency room visit. If your pup has a first-degree burn, they will display signs of pain, and the area will appear burned, but the skin will remain intact. For second and third-degree burns, your dog will display agonizing symptoms of pain, and you’ll find the skin entirely or partially burned off. At this stage, your canine might also be in shock.
If your dog gets burned on an open flame from a candlestick, pumpkin flame, or firepit, restrain them and calm them immediately. Once they are calm, you can begin treating the area with a steady stream of cold water in a bathtub or sink.
The key here is a rapid treatment to prevent further damage or pain. The cold water should offer immediate pain relief. When you are done running water on the area, use a cold compress like a frozen bag of peas from the freezer and contact a vet for further instruction.
Burns from electric heat sources are typically a little more severe and could require extensive attention from a professional. For mild first-degree burns, the first thing you want to do is to get your dog away from the source of the burn. If they chewed through a decoration wire, get them out of there.
If possible, hand your dog off to someone else in your home while you secure the area around the wire. Make sure no trick-or-treaters or other pets have gone near it and turn the power off at the breaker. Do not try to unplug the wire that caused the burn because you could also face a burn or electric shock. Treat the injury the same way you would a flame-based burn. Call the vet and then flush the area with cool water and apply a cold compress.
For more severe burns with noticeably damaged or falling off skin, check for signs of shock and call the vet ASAP. Cover the burned area with a dressing and avoid loose-fibered bandages that could stick to the wound. Wrap the dressed area in a clean t-shirt and take your dog to the emergency room right away.
Pumpkin & Corn
It’s not pumpkin or corn that are problems. If prepared correctly, these foods are perfectly safe for your dog. While pumpkin might be safe, a rotting, raw pumpkin display presents a problem. If the vegetable is rotten or has a candle inside, it could cause a burn or upset stomach.
Many people reuse corn displays every year, so they sit in basements or attics and accumulate dust and mold all year long. For some reason, our pups are attracted to these, and love chewing on them. It might seem fun initially, but mold and mildew produce mycotoxins, which can cause neurological problems in animals.
If you have a pumpkin or corn display in your yard or porch, it’s best to keep pups far away.
The key to having a great time on Halloween with is to not overreact or panic in a bad situation. If your pup starts to panic when he sees unfamiliar people, don’t act nervous, or he might have an aggressive reaction. Your dog always feeds off your emotions and behavior, so if he sees everyone having a great time, laughing and smiling, then he is more likely to enjoy the company as well.
That being said, for most dogs, this holiday is extremely overwhelming, so it is best to find them a quiet room to keep them safely away from the action. If you are unsure how your dog will react to the change of pace, it’s best to keep him away from the nightlife. Remember, it’s only for a few hours!
Halloween is a fun time for families, especially for little ones. The holiday is known for candy, decorations, and plenty of activity, all of which can be unhealthy for your dog. This is why it is imperative for dog owners to do everything in their power to keep their dogs safe.