“It’s the most wonderful time of the year...” For many, these song lyrics evoke images of winter months, holidays, and cheerful festivities. However, for others, these words represent a different holiday and spirited love entirely. That’s right; I’m talking about Halloween!
For my fellow die-hard ‘Ween lovers, October 31st is so much more than just a holiday celebrated one day out of the year. It’s a whole mood...a vibe...an event to be celebrated all month long and to its fullest potential. And, like any occasion that brings one such joy, it is natural to want to share it with those that we love. Yes, this also includes our pets.
As much as we’d love for our pets to be a part of every spooktacular moment, just like people, their preferences must also be kept in mind. So, as we approach the most wonderful time of the year, we’ve compiled some tips to keep Halloween a safe and enjoyable event for both creatures of the night and of the canine kind, alike.
To make sure you avoid things that go bump in the night, consider your dog’s personality, likes/dislikes, and personal comfort.
If your pet loves to be part of the group, dressing your pooch up in costume can be a fun option! When considering the perfect costume, make sure to select something that will not be too tight or constricting. Easy removal is key in case your dog doesn't like his pumpkin or her princess costume as much as you do! If your dog exhibits signs of discomfort, do not force them to wear their costume. (Think of the times your parents made you sport that terribly awful and uncomfortable holiday sweater, formal wear, or last-minute homemade costume...Please don’t do that to your pets if they prefer to go au naturel!)
If your pup digs his costume and will be showing off his duds in public, a secure leash, harness, and collar with identification tags are a must! On the other hand, if your plans are to stay home and be on candy duty, you may also want to consider keeping the leash on and/or strategically placed baby gates nearby to thwart unexpected mad dashes for the door.
Dogs that will not appreciate the frequent visits from trick-or-treaters, whether due to stranger danger or simply just too much action for their liking, might do better in a separate room with some light background music or TV noise to drown out the doorbell/knocking. If the background noise won’t help distract your dog, consider sitting outside to hand out candy, putting out a treat bowl, or hanging a “Please do not ring bell/knock” sign to deter trick-or-treaters from sending Fido into a fit. For more extreme cases, your vet can recommend calming products that are safe for your pooch, similar to those that one might use for firework anxiety around the 4th of July.
Lastly, let’s talk candy. Like humans, the allure of those chocolate-y, gooey, crunchy, fruity, sweet nuggets of deliciousness can be almost too much for most of us to resist. But, while humans may actually try to resist it, dogs will not. If candy is within reach, they will want it and will try to get it!
Most pet parents know the dangers that candy poses to dogs, but all it takes is a moment or two of forgetfulness before the entire bag of Hershey bars has been consumed. Keeping candy in a secure container, high up and out-of-reach, or in a cabinet or drawer until it is time to hand out can help prevent unnecessary trips to the puppy ER. The same rule of thumb goes for small decorations and Halloween knick-knacks easily mistaken for toys. To avoid possible choking hazards, make sure decorations are inaccessible, just in case your dog has plans of going all Dr. Frankenstein on them!
Keeping these tips in mind should allow for a safe and frighteningly fun time on the most glorious day of the year, while dodging any ghoulishly ghastly mishaps. Take a moment to howl at the moon alongside your furry canine friend (it is the one night of the year they can pretend to be werewolves) and happy hauntings to all!
Written by: Elyse P.