It’s spooky season! Halloween is a very fun time of year with candy costumes and themed decorations galore. Naturally, you want to include your furbaby as best you can! While an 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 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 dress your dog up, it’s essential to ensure that they still have full range of motion - you don’t want a costume restricting their movement. You must also ensure it doesn’t inhibit their other senses, such as sight, smell, and sound. Don’t cover your dog’s eyes or anything like that!
Check your dog's costume for hazards such as small, dangling pieces that might be chewed off and cause choking. Prioritize your pet's safety over a cute appearance. Ensure the costume is comfortable, allows easy movement, doesn't impact their senses, and contains no choking hazards or toxic paint or dye.
To determine if your pup is comfortable dressing up, have them try on their costume before Halloween. Practice using the costume leading up to Halloween, so they grow more comfortable with it.
However, if the practice doesn’t help and results in your dog's distress, 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 or the like. One of our top Halloween tips for dogs is that you could make a cute little Beanie Baby tag 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 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 usual 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. You could make pumpkin and/or peanut butter dog treats in spooky shapes. Dogs already like bones, and they are festive this time of year! Just 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 stressful for dogs! Regardless of whether you take them out or leave them at home, many people are on the streets and coming to your door, and many people dress up in ways that can be scary to dogs. While this can be a blast for very social dogs, it can be highly stressful for any other dog. One of the best Halloween tips for dogs is to stay home. Consider keeping your dog in another room, away from the door, with calming music or a movie to minimize their stress levels.
Also, ensure your dogs wear collars with ID tags and have microchips. They could easily get lost in the All Hallow's Eve commotion. If they escape, this will help them return to you.
While leaving your dog at home on Halloween night is safer, if you bring them out, closely monitor them. Seeing many people in strange costumes can frighten them, and passersby, especially children, might want to pet a dog on the street. This could stress your dog. If your dog shows signs of stress, return home immediately.
Keep an eye on your dogs to prevent them from eating candies, chocolates, wrappers, or small costume pieces. Always leash them, preferably using a reflective leash for added safety. Never release them off the leash, as they might eat harmful items, get lost, or become targets for Halloween pranksters targeting loose animals.
As mentioned, it's usually more comfortable for dogs, except very extroverted ones, to stay home with a family member than to join trick-or-treating. However, even social dogs may find Halloween stressful and scary. It would be best to actively observe your dog's behavior for stress signs. If you see any, promptly return home.
Some tips for taking your dog trick-or-treating include reflective tags/vests/ 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 others may bring 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, 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!