Halloween Horrors

Our pets tend to be creatures of habit, meaning they are most comfortable when they’re in their normal routine.  When that routine is interrupted, they can be easily agitated or become scared and anxious.  Halloween is no exception to this, especially for a dog that does not understand what is going on.  The costumes, noise, lights, and activity may scare them.  Whether you’re taking your dog trick-or-treating with you or staying home to hand out candy, take a moment to make sure your furry pal is safe and secure.

Some dogs may love donning a costume and going out with the kids to socialize with the neighbors.  However, always be sure to keep him on a leash so he isn’t tempted to run amuck in the streets.  Remember, the people he is used to seeing may not look the same to him with their costumes or masks on and he may become easily startled or distressed.  Keep him near you and make sure his ID tags are secured on his collar just in case he gets spooked and escapes.

If you’ve decided to stay in for the night to hand out candy, consider putting your dog in a crate or putting up a gate to ensure he doesn’t scoot out the front door when you’re opening it.  Containment is the best way to reduce your dog’s stress when encountering strangers or costumed children.  In addition to that, some children do not play well with pets so it may be in the best interest of both to keep them apart. 

If your dog gets especially anxious at the sound of the doorbell or other loud noises like fireworks and firecrackers, consider moving him to a room farther away from the front door.  Move his bed and his toys in there to make him more comfortable.  You might even turn on the TV or a sound machine to drown out the background noises in the house. Your veterinarian may also be able to prescribe a medication to help calm them during these stressful times – best to discuss it with them as every case is different.

If your dog lives outside, he most likely will not enjoy all the extra noise in the neighborhood.  He may become frantic at all the activity or bark excessively.  If this is the case, bring him in the house for the evening and follow the tips mentioned above.    

Once the trick-or-treating is done and the evening has quieted down, there is just one more thing to consider:  the candy!  Most of our pets would love a taste of those sugary snacks, but in fact, candy can be very harmful to them.  Chocolate can actually be toxic and other sweets can cause digestive problems.  If your dog does ingest something, look for signs of distress such as vomiting or diarrhea, blood or mucous in the stool, pacing, not able to get comfortable while resting, refusing food, or overall weakness.  If you observe any of these, either that night or over time, call your veterinarian immediately.  Keep plenty of your pet’s favorite treats on hand so you can give them one of theirs while you indulge in yours!  We wish you and your pets a safe and Happy Halloween!