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Halloween is a highlight for many people, with a continuous flow of costumed visitors coming to trick or treat and the festive sound of fireworks in the neighborhood. Your dog might not share in your appreciation for this autumn fun and instead feel stressed and agitated by the change in activities. With a little planning, you can have a happy and safe dog along with an enjoyable evening.
Even if you have a fenced yard and your dog has never escaped, you should still bring him indoors for Halloween. The extra foot traffic by your house and the sound of fireworks can be stressful to an animal wired by nature to protect his territory. Save him from the extra anxiety, as well as potential Halloween pranks, by keeping him indoors.
If you’ve seen the perfect human-dog costume pairing (such as a dog dressed in a Grandma disguise next to Little Red Riding Hood), you might be tempted to ignore the advice to leave your pet at home. If you’re convinced he’ll be ok with a costumed walk, test the costume in advance. Try it on your dog a few days before Halloween to make sure it fits without falling off, it’s safe and doesn’t obstruct vision or breathing, and it doesn’t cause your dog any irritation to wear it and walk in it.
If your dog’s costume is a success and you really want to take him out with you, keep him leashed at all times. Be on the lookout for dropped candy on the ground that your dog might find and eat. Keep him close to you, and watch him closely for signs that his busy surroundings are causing him anxiety.
Don’t let your beloved friend be the lost dog who’s found with the out-of-date telephone number on his tag. Even if you plan to keep your pet inside, all it takes is an open door and a sudden, startling noise to cause him to bolt out of the house. Make sure all ID such as collar tags and microchip and tattoo registries have current contact information.
While Halloween treats merely represent a short detour from your healthy diet, they can be far worse for your dog. Keep a close watch on anything edible to make sure your pet doesn’t eat the wrong thing. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can stress your dog’s heart and nervous system. Chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and even death. The sweetener xylitol can also make your pet sick. Keep all the Halloween treats for humans out of the reach of your furry friend.
Depending on the age of your dog, chewing non-edible items might still be a regular behavior that you have to prevent. If you have a young dog who is seeing your Halloween decorations for the first time, the impulse to taste them might be too much. Plan ahead for this temptation by purchasing a few new dog-safe chewing alternatives, such as flavored bones, long lasting dental chews or a couple of new dog toys.
You’ve probably taught your dog some important commands such as sit, stay, leave it and drop it. Practice them more in the days leading up to Halloween so that compliance is a conditioned reflex for your pup rather than an occasional occurrence. When you’re surrounded by glow sticks, fake skeletons and bowls of candy, you should be able to count on your dog to drop a forbidden item on command rather than running away with it.
While trick or treaters and their parents know better than to make contact with candle-lit pumpkins, your dog does not. A hyper hound colliding with a lit candle can result in a hazard.
Set up a quiet room with a comfortable bed and a TV on as a place to confine your dog while the traffic to your front door is heavy or your party is in full swing. Keep the lights low, and check on your dog to make sure he’s calm. If he’s crate trained, put a blanket over the crate to make him feel more secure.
Even with the best planning, sometimes mishaps happen. Check your vet’s hours, and if they’re closed in the evenings, make sure that you have an alternative plan. Know the contact number and location of a 24-hour animal clinic near you, just in case.
Your dog relies on you to feel comfortable and safe, and Halloween can be anxiety-provoking for your pet. However, if you plan ahead you can avoid problems by creating an evening that’s only minimally disruptive for your dog but plenty of fun for you.
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