It’s spooky season! Halloween is a very fun time of year with candy and costumes and themed decorations galore. Naturally, you want to include your furbaby as best you can! While a natural instinct, it’s important to remember that what humans find fun can be stressful to dogs and tasty treats for us can be life-threatening to them. Here are some Halloween tips for dogs that you should know in order to have a fun and safe holiday with your puppy.
It depends. While dressing your puppy up as a superhero may seem adorable in theory, costumes can stress your pup out. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests that you shouldn’t dress your dog up unless they actively like it. If you do dress your dog up, it’s important to ensure that they still have full range-of-motion - you don’t want a costume that restricts their movement. You also must make sure it doesn’t inhibit any of their other senses, such as sight and smell and sound. Don’t cover your dog’s eyes or anything like that!
You also want to check any costumes for hazards, such as small, dangling pieces that could easily be chewed off and choke your furbaby. You don’t want to compromise your pet’s safety just for something that looks cute but can hurt them or impede their senses! Any costume you put your dog in should be comfortable, easy to move in, doesn’t impact any of their senses, with no choking hazards, and no potentially toxic paint or dye.
A good way to tell if your pup will even like to be dressed up is to have them try their costume on before Halloween. You can try to get them used to it by practicing with it leading up to Halloween, so that they can grow more comfortable with it.
However, if the practicing doesn’t help and results in your dog being distressed, you shouldn’t dress them up. Some fun, safe alternatives to a costume for your dog could be a fun, festive bandana or collar with pumpkins on it or the like. You could make a cute little Beanie Baby tag to put on their collar. You could make little wings to put on their harness. The important thing is that your pup is safe and comfortable.
It’s generally common knowledge that dogs can’t have chocolate, and Halloween doesn’t change this. Don’t give your dog any chocolate! It is very poisonous to dogs. Candies with xylitol, a sugar substitute, are also a big problem as this is very toxic to pets. In general, it’s best to keep the candy away from the pups! Wrappers are also a huge problem - if your puppy eats a candy wrapper, this can obstruct their systems, with potentially lethal side-effects.
Rather than risk giving your pup something that could hurt them, stick to their normal treats and keep the candy bowl out of reach. You may also consider dog-friendly alternatives to candy to have something special to include your pup with. You could make pumpkin and/or peanut butter dog treats in spooky shapes. Plus, dogs already like bones, and they are festive this time of year! Just make sure to keep the bones to one or two a week, and make sure they are raw without sharp edges or potential to break. Cooked bones can be quite brittle and tear up your dog’s insides, so make sure you stick to raw bones!
Halloween is one of those holidays like the 4th of July that can be really stressful for dogs! Regardless of whether you take them out or leave them home, there are a lot of people on the streets and coming to your door, and a lot of people dressed up in ways that can be scary to dogs. While for very social dogs, this can be a blast, it can be extremely stressful for any other dog. If you stay home, consider keeping your dog in another room, away from the door, with calming music or a movie playing to minimize their stress levels.
You also must make sure that they’re wearing their collar with its ID tags and are microchipped, in case they get out. They can easily get lost in the hustle and bustle of All Hallow’s Eve, so you want to make sure they can find their way back to you if they do manage to escape.
While it is much safer to leave your dog at home on Halloween night, if you must take them out, keep a careful eye on them. All the people in strange costumes can be scary, and many people who see a dog out on the street will want to come up and pet it, especially children. This can be very stressful for your dog. If you notice any signs of stress, you should turn around and go home.
You also want to keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t end up eating any candies or chocolates or wrappers or small bits of costumes that fell to the street. Keep them on a leash at all times, and for added safety, make it a reflective leash. Don’t let them off the leash, as they could eat something that could kill them or make them choke, get lost, or become a target to those who like to target loose animals on Halloween.
As mentioned above, unless your dog is very extroverted, they’ll probably be much more comfortable left at home with a family member to watch them than taken out trick-or-treating with everyone. But even social butterflies can be stressed and scared by Halloween. It’s vital to watch your dog’s vital language for signs of stress, and if you do notice any, to turn around and go home.
Some tips for if you do take your dog trick-or-treating include: reflective tags/vest/ leashes - you need people to be able to see your dog! Do not let anyone give them candy or treats. Also, watch for other dogs or pets other people may bring out with them, and be aware that children generally don’t look where they are going. You don’t want your dog to get run into or caught in a fight!
Just like you normally would, bring things to clean up after your dog on the way, as well as dog treats to reward good behavior and water to keep them hydrated.
Hopefully, with these Halloween tips for dogs, your Halloween will be all treats and no tricks for your puppy! You want to have a happy, safe, non-stressful holiday. If you have any questions about what is recommended for your dog, contact your vet for advice. We here at Little Teton Doodles wish you a Happy Halloween!