With Halloween quickly approaching, I just wanted to highlight some safety tips for our pets:
Bring your pets indoors—even if your pet is used to being outdoors, bring your cats and dogs indoors. Unfortunately, animals can be the target of pranks and teasing during Halloween, especially black cats.
Keep your pet in a safe room —little children and energetic teenagers dressed up as goblins, pirates, scarecrows or the Grim Reaper may be a bit too much for our furry friends, especially if they are on the fearful side. Sometimes, it is best to have our pets in a safe room (covered crate, a gated-off area or a back bedroom) with a stuffed Kong or bully stick. With the door constantly opening and closing, we want to make sure our pets do not accidentally run out the door. So, keeping them in a safe room will prevent accidental escapes.
Make sure your dog has an I.D. tag and is microchipped - during the holidays is when a lot of lost pets are turned into shelters. Pets can accidentally run out of the door either because of fear or someone carelessly leaving the door open. Microchipping has saved many pets lives and resulted in many happy returns.
Make sure your dog knows how to "wait" behind the door or keep your dog on a leash - If your dog is going to be loose in your home (I prefer using a safe room), make sure he/she understands the cue for “waiting” behind the door and can handle seeing people in costumes. Keep your dog on a leash to prevent darting out the door. If he/she shows any signs of stress, anxiety, or aggression, put your dog in a safe room. Pet gates are another good option.
Keep your pet at home—Although it is tempting to have your dog go trick or treating with the kids, with so many strange looking people out and about, it can scare your dog. Your dog may panic and get loose or react negatively and nip a costumed stranger trying to pet him/her.
Go on Candy Patrol—often the day after Halloween, I find candy and cellophane wrappers on my porch and front yard. Make sure you check your home and front yard for stray candy so that your pet does not accidentally swallow it. Raisins and chocolate can be toxic to dogs as well as the artificial sweetener, xylitol found in chewing gum and other sugarless candies.
Beware of Jack-O-Lanterns & Candles—sometimes our pets are a little clueless about fire. Happy dogs with big wagging tails or cats jumping on a table can knock over a candle. Also young animals may be overly curious and burn themselves. Keeping your dog in a safe room can prevent these mishaps.
Some dogs hate costumes—while cute, some dogs are not very tolerant of costumes and can get cranky and snappy. If your dog looks stressed, unhappy or uncomfortable, take it off. Here is a primer on dog body language so that you can identify the more common canine stress signals.
A bandana is as much as my dog can handle. A costume would put her in a very foul mood.