Halloween is a fun and festive time for the whole family. Trick-or-treating, costumes, and plenty of decorations fill neighborhoods across the country. Halloween is also a tough time for dogs and dog owners because they know the holiday puts a lot of stress on their pup.
Depending on your dog’s personality, you might have to lock them away in a room or try to keep them away from the door. If you do let your dog roam free, there are a few things you want to think about so you can keep them safe on this spooky holiday.
Battery Powered Decorations
While battery-powered or corded decorations are safer than having open flames, they do pose a risk to your pets. Dogs are known to chew on these 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 these and swallows some, it could cause severe stomach lacerations.
We love seeing our dogs in their cute costumes, and each time we dress them up, we know how much they hate it. It’s Halloween, so you get a pass this time, but try to make sure that your dog doesn’t completely hate their outfit and can at least deal with it for a few hours. If the costume causes pup any discomfort or it irritates their skin, you might want to pass on it.
Try the costume on the day 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 them, 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, let them off the hook.
Trick Or Treating
The best place for a pup on Halloween is at home, so you do not want to take them out with your children trick-or-treating. If you are walking neighborhoods and suburbs where a lot of kids go, you know that they drop candy constantly as they make their way around. This is a hazard to your dog’s health.
If a dog consumes any sort of chocolate, including dark chocolate, they can suffer a potentially fatal poisoning and require emergency medical attention. Not only is chocolate bad, but many sugary candies contain xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener used in baking. Ingesting this substitute, causing a rapid drop in blood sugar followed by liver failure.
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 harsh and reckless prank. If you have your pup out in your yard, be sure to keep an eye on them at all times if people are coming up and petting him.
Your dog might love all the attention, but not everyone has good intentions around animals. If your pup does have a costume on, make sure that no one is misbehaving with the costume and check on your canine frequently to make sure that nothing has shifted and that he or she is still okay.
Keep Your Dog Indoors
In a worst-case scenario if your dog is nervous around groups of people or territorial; the best bet would be to keep him away from the action in a room where he can be comfortable and not have to worry about people trespassing in his space if he hasn’t been properly socialized.
Remember that dogs can also become frightened by scary and unusual costumes, which can lead to unexpected aggression. The last thing you want is your dog chasing the “Freddy Krueger” kid down the street. If you are at all unsure about how your pup will behave on Halloween, it’s best to keep them away and play it safe.
Pumpkin & Corn
It’s not pumpkin or corn that are the problem. These foods are perfectly safe for your dog, but it’s the matter in which they get consumed. While pumpkin might not be an issue, a raw old pumpkin display is 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 they love chewing on them. It might be 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 on your porch, it’s best to keep pup as far away as possible.
Some of the best fun we have as kids are popping the glow sticks and watching them light up. This is especially fun on Halloween night, and glow sticks are also useful for keeping people safe by identifying their location so cars can maneuver around them. That said, glow sticks are a problem for dogs if they chew them and break it open.
The liquid inside is non-toxic so it will not hurt your pup, but it might make them sick. If your dog consumes too much of the liquid, he might start drooling and eventually vomit, but it’s nothing serious. Give your friend water or some food to get the taste out of their mouth, and they’ll be good to go.
If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of trick-or-treaters, be sure to take a run through your yard the morning after Halloween and check for any candy, costume materials, or glow sticks that might have gotten dropped the night before.
If Something Goes Wrong
The key to having a great time on Halloween with your pup is to not overreact and panic in a bad situation. If your dog gets out and starts chasing something, you can always get them to come back. If your pup starts to panic when he sees so many unfamiliar people around, don’t act nervous or he might react violently to that.
No problem is too big to handle, and your dog always feeds off your emotions and behavior, so if he sees everyone having a great time, laughing and smiling, then he will start to enjoy the company as well.
We all know that chocolate is toxic, and we do our best to keep it away from them during the stressful holiday season. If your dog consumes chocolate, it is best to call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline right away for advice on how to proceed. They might tell you to take the pup to an emergency room or watch them closely to see how they react.
Chocolate contains two toxic components, one being caffeine and the other is theobromine. Both increase the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs. How sick your dog becomes from ingesting chocolate depends on how much they ate and their weight.
For large breed dogs, a small mini candy bar is not enough to kill them, 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.
Getting a Burn
One of the worst things that could happen to your pup on Halloween is they get burned due to electronics or open flames. You can treat a light burn at home by yourself while 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 show signs of shock.
If your dog gets burned on an open flame from a candlestick, pumpkin flame, or firepit; restrain them and calm them down immediately. Once they are calm, you can begin treating the area with a steady stream of cold water in the bathtub or sink.
The key here is to get down to business quickly to prevent further damage or pain. The cold water should offer immediate pain relief to your pup.
When you are done running water on the area, use a cold compress like a frozen bag of something from your freezer and contact a vet for further instruction.
From Heated Devices
These types of burns are a little more severe and could require extensive attention that you cannot perform yourself. 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 electrical wiring. Make sure no trick-or-treaters or other pets you have go near that area and try to turn off the power to that electronic device from 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 burn the same way you would a flame-based burn. Flush the area with cool water and apply a cold compress.
For more severe burns where the skin is noticeably damaged or falling off, you want to check for signs of shock. Cover the burned area with a dressing and avoid loose-fibered dressings that will stick to the wound. Wrap the dressed area in a clean t-shirt and take your dog to the emergency room right away.
If They Run Away
It’s devastating to think of our dog running away and getting lost somewhere. If your dog gets out on Halloween night, it’s more difficult to get them home because of the number of people, lights, and distractions. All these combined become disorienting, and a pup that once knew the entire neighborhood is completely lost.
Here are a few things you should do if your dog is not returning immediately:
Contact local authorities: The Humane Society says the first thing you should do is contact the animal shelters and control agencies in your area. If you do not have a local shelter contact the police department and they should be more than happy to help you in your 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. Hand out flyers with your pup’s picture on it to mail carriers and delivery drivers as well.
Advertise: Go to places that offer free advertising boards like grocery stores, pet stores, hardware stores, restaurants, and schools. Put up pictures of your dog with plenty of information about their size, breed, color, sex, age, etc. If at any point you think your dog might have been stolen, contact the local police and make them aware of the situation.
Halloween is a fun time for families and especially for little ones who fill themselves up on plenty of candy. The holiday is known for lights, decorations, and plenty of activity. As a dog owner, you need to do everything in your power to keep your dog safe on this holiday because there are plenty of hazards.
If you are at all unsure about how your dog will react to the change of pace, it’s best to keep him or her in a room away from the nightlife. Remember, it’s only for a few hours!