Halloween is upon us once more. The spookiest night of the year is all about chills, thrills, tricks and treats but it can become a horror story for dogs, especially our four-legged friends who are not always of a calm disposition.
If spooky costumes, scary masks and eerie knocks at the door on a dark evening take us by surprise, then spare a thought for how it must look to your family pet. Follow our top tips to help keep your dog safe and happy this Halloween.
Sweets and treats are not for dogs
Don’t be tricked by those puppy dog eyes into giving your canine chum a treat, even if it is just for one night. Chocolate is toxic for dogs and even consumption of a small amount can result in seizures, tremors and vomiting. A large dose can even be fatal.
Sweets could lead to choking and the artificial sweetener Xylitol used in many candies can be lethal and lower a dog’s blood sugar, causing confusion, disorientation and, in extreme cases, result in liver failure. Have lots of dog-friendly tidbits on hand to allow your pooch to join in with the treats and reward good behaviour.
Keep your dog confined inside and away from the door
Your dog can become anxious and distressed if the doorbell is constantly ringing and children dressed in scary outfits are revealed every time the door is answered. This can result in uncharacteristic behaviours like escape attempts and aggression. Make sure your dog is confined to his or her favourite safe space or a crate or room away from the front door.
If you do walk your dog around the neighbourhood on Halloween, use a sturdy collar and a short leash. Be careful around unfamiliar people and other dogs and it’s no doubt worth ensuring your beloved doggy has plenty of exercise during the day to take the edge off when dusk falls.
It’s a nightmare scenario none of us want to think about but it’s not unknown for vicious pranksters to use Halloween as an excuse to cause harm to pets so don’t be tempted to leave your dog out in the yard or garden.
Brief the kids and prepare your pooch
If the kids are dressing up, remind them that their appearance could be scary for the family pet. Give your dog the chance to familiarise themselves with their outfits. A friendly stroke will reassure him or her that the strange-looking creature in front of them is really their favourite family members and allow your dog to recognise their familiar smell.
If you are tempted to really involve your dog in the occasion and dress them up in a costume, make sure they’ll be comfortable in it – plenty simply won’t be – and ensure it isn’t tight-fitting or restrict their movement and eyesight.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, pay attention to your dog during the evening and watch for signs of distress, anxiety and tiredness. You more than anyone will recognise whether your pet is enjoying themselves or finding it tough. Staying close to them and offering plenty of reassurance should ensure that everyone, including your pet, has a thoroughly safe and enjoyable Halloween.