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Puppies, Dogs, and Halloween, Oh My!

By: Jerri Johnson

October 5, 2023

Holidays can be a stressful time not only for people but our pets as well.  Halloween can be especially challenging for our furry family members.  With a little planning and training you can make Halloween less scary and more fun for everyone.

For Every Holiday

  • Dogs are very sensitive to disruptions in their normal schedule.  We often get busy with parties and events and Fido can get lost in the shuffle.  Take care to keep your dog’s routines such as regular meal schedules, walks, exercise, and play sessions consistent.
  • If there is more activity in the household (parties, guests, etc.), plan some quiet time for your dog.

Trick-or-Treaters and Guests

  • Even friendly dogs can become fearful of strangers.  Dog may even be fearful of people they know, if those people are in costume.  Plus the constant ringing of the doorbell can be very stressful for your dog.
  • It is helpful to train your dog ahead of time for calm door greetings.  If your dog seems overwhelmed by visitors or fearful of guests in costumes, remove it from the situation quietly. Be careful not to punish your dog for being fearful.  If your dog seems willing to entertain the idea of greeting guests, have dog treats available and ask guests to give the dog treats.  Reward positive interactions.  Never force or push your dog into fearful situations.  It will only serve to make them more fearful.
  • Just like the 4th of July, Halloween can be a scary holiday for dogs and they may try to escape in fear.  Always keep your dog on a sturdy leash, in a secure fence or behind a barrier.  Always make sure your dog is wearing ID Tags or license.

Halloween Candy and Treats

  • Most human treats are not good for dogs and may even be dangerous.  Candy, especially chocolate, can be extremely poisonous.  Candies and gums containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, are also extremely toxic.  Dog may ingest candy wrappers, salty party snacks, etc. that can cause stomach upset and poisoning.  Most dogs will also partake in alcoholic beverages if giving the opportunity.  Alcohol is very dangerous to dogs and can be deadly.  The bottom line is that great care must be taken to keep all treats out of your dog’s reach and guests should be instructed to only give your dog approved doggie treats.  Be careful not to over feed these.  Even too much of a good thing can be bad.  If you believe your dog has ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Halloween Decorations

  • Your dog will probably be very curious about all those Halloween decorations and they may look like tasty treats or fun toys.  Be careful to place decorations out of Fido’s reach.  Be especially careful with power cords, electric decorations, and candles.

Halloween Costumes for Dogs

  • Many dogs really love clothes and costumes.  They don’t mind getting manipulated into a costume and revel in the attention.  Other dogs hate the manipulation and seem humiliated by the whole thing.  If you want to try a costume, start simple and watch your dog’s behavior.  If Fido resists or seems humiliated, don’t push the issue.  A Halloween bandana or collar may be a better option.  If your dog seems to enjoy getting dressed up, choose a costume that fits comfortably.  Make sure that it is not so tight that it cuts off circulation or rubs sores, or so loose that it can trip the dog or get caught on objects around the house.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in costume and immediately remove the costume if your dog seems uncomfortable.

Have Fun, Love Your Dog, and Have a Happy Halloween!

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