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Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe and Sane This Halloween

Halloween is so darned fun, for us humans, that is. Think about it from the perspective of your pets. The ridiculous costumes they are forced to wear, all those scary sights and sounds, the doorbell ringing over and over again. For our dogs and cats, Halloween can be downright ghoulish! Had they a say so in the matter, most of them would opt to ignore this holiday altogether! If celebration is a must in your household, consider the following tips to keep your pets safe and sane this Halloween season.

Your Pet’s Physical Well Being
Guard the candy bowl! Given the opportunity, most dogs will gladly gorge on chocolate, wrappers and all. Chocolate contains theobromine a substance chemically related to caffeine and capable of causing the “cocoa jitters.” The richer (darker) the chocolate, the more jittery your pup will be. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include restlessness, irritability, increased urination, muscle tremors, and sometimes even seizures. Vomiting and diarrhea are also commonplace following chocolate ingestion. If you suspect your dog(s) has raided the candy bowl, call your family veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately. The sooner treatment is initiated, the better the chance for a good outcome. Based on the approximate weight of your candy thief and the type and amount of chocolate ingested, you will be advised whether or not your dog needs medical attention. Likely no big deal for the Great Dane who has downed some milk chocolate kisses. For the four pound Chihuahua, however, a few ounces of bittersweet chocolate could be a lethal dose.

If you welcome trick-or-treaters to your home, your front door will be opening and closing repeatedly. This translates into many opportunities for your dog or cat to escape into the dark of night when their familiar territory has become particularly spooky.

Getting lost or running out in front of a moving vehicle are potentially disastrous holiday outcomes. My advice- don’t include your pets as part of your Halloween welcoming committee. Far safer to confine them behind closed doors.

Your Pet’s Emotional Well Being
Does your kitty hide under your bed every time someone new comes to your home? Does your dog’s job description include barking and protecting whenever a stranger (trick-or-treaters included) arrives at your front door? Think about how these poor animals must feel on Halloween night when that doorbell rings dozens of times within just a few hours. Talk about emotional exhaustion! Consider the following options to preserve their sanity:

  • Confine your pets behind closed doors, ideally in a sound- proof part of your home.
  • Provide trick or treaters with a “help yourself” candy bowl on your front walkway.
  • Board your pets elsewhere on Halloween night.
  • Turn off your house lights and skip the holiday altogether. (No guarantees your house won’t be egged the following day!)

Halloween costumes for pets certainly make for some giggles and terrific photo opportunities. But how do our pets really feel about being dressed in those silly outfits? I once made the mistake of hosting a Halloween pet costume contest via my blog. Leave it to my wonderful readers to set me straight. They let me know in no uncertain terms that our pets prefer to dress in their “birthday suits” for Halloween!

There is likely nothing your dog enjoys more than accompanying you for a walk around your neighborhood. Doing so on Halloween, however, may be a downright spooky experience for your best buddy. My bottom line advice- Halloween is a holiday for humans. Let’s leave our pets out of it!

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Nancy Kay, DVM, Dipl., American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is a 2009 recipient of AAHA's Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award and author of Speaking for Spot.

speakingforspot.com
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Submitted by AegeanBreeze | October 23 2012 |

Yep, next to the 4th of July hoopla (annoying and horrible firecrackers), Halloween ranks right there in 2nd place as being near intolerable for the family pet, not to mention all the homeless animals as well as the critters meant to live outdoors. Count me as "not a fan."

Submitted by Sheltie Gal | October 23 2012 |

I think that with most things you need to know your pet to determine how stressful the Halloween time is for your pet. My older Sheltie loves the holiday and cheerfully greets all the neighborhood kids. My younger Sheltie on the other hand wants nothing to do with the holiday. To make things work for my boys I keep the younger one away from the door in an isolated part of the house. I also avoid any doorbell ringing by being at the door or outside to reduce the stress to my younger. The bottom line is that as a responsible pet owner you need to know your pet.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 24 2012 |

is there any recipe or product that is dog friendly i could use as fake blood ? on the dog

Submitted by ChicagoAgility.com | October 24 2012 |

We enjoy Halloween fun & all of the training opportunities it provides.
We use it to work on all sorts of behaviors so our dogs have a positive association with the people (no matter what they are wearing), the sounds, the front door activity. The dogs pick up on our positive attitude & they enjoy the day, too.

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