Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pet

Truman Brooks pleased as pumpkin
Truman Brooks pleased as pumpkin

Ghouls, Goblins, Candy, and Canines

It's common knowledge that as far as holidays and pets go, Fourth of July is just about the worst. Fireworks, firecrackers, other loud noises, commotion, people in and out of houses and a general sense of chaos make July 5th the busiest day of the year for nearly every animal shelter across the country.

And then there's Halloween.

Putting aside the very obvious danger of dogs consuming candy (see below for more details on that), there is any number of things that make Halloween a ghoulish time for Fido. These range from the constant barrage of doorbell ringing and knocking that some folks experience as trick-or-treaters scamper merrily door to door, to dogs being startled by costumes and masks.

While some dogs enjoy costumes (note Truman's joy above at his Great Pumpkin ensemble), generally speaking Halloween is a holiday that calls for caution. Following are a few tips for keeping you and your canine kid safe and happy this Halloween.

1. Candy and Canines don't mix - By now you probably have your stash for the kids (and yourself) ready to go. When it comes to candy, all the corn syrup and cornstarch in and of itself is terrible for your dog. Then there is chocolate - it is the cacao that is the serious issue on the toxic front, so your run-of-the-mill Hershey bar may not be a problem. Of course, around Halloween rarely is there only one Hershey bar around. Instead we're looking at those 5-10 pound super-sized sacks. Dogs getting into the entire bag could face some serious diarrhea, along with the potential of obstructions from the foil and wrappers. Then there is the added challenge that many Halloween candy bars come with nuts and most all of those (save peanuts) are a serious problem. Some nuts to avoid include: Macadamia nuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Walnuts, Black walnuts, Pecans, Cashews, Brazil nuts and Hickory nuts. Make sure as you're preparing for the evening that you don't leave the candy unattended.

2. Be mindful of the front door - If you're staying at home and plan to welcome trick-or-treaters, as much fun as it might be to get your pup into his fabulous Star Wars outfit (of course he's Chewbacca to your Princess Leia), your best bet is to get him safely tucked away in a room away from the front door, ensuring the doors and windows of the room are secured. It's not unusual for even dogs that don't generally trigger at the doorbell to become a bit more anxious or go on high alert when the doorbell starts to ring more frequently and there is more commotion. If you can have your dog secured in a room away from the front door with a TV or music on to dull the sound, all the better.

3. Something more than a fursuit - Costumes. Some dogs love them. Many tolerate them. Others shun them altogether. First and foremost make sure that your pup is okay wearing a costume at all. For those who allow their humans to dress them, and those who love it, make sure that whatever your pup has on doesn't restrict their vision, breathing or ability to move. Also be mindful there are no small dangling pieces that might serve as a tempting snack and choking hazard for your pup (especially those with a penchant for tearing costumes off).

The rest of our Halloween safety tips can be found in our new, online private communityThis is just the tip of the tail on Halloween safety. . This members-only group gives participants full access to information and insight on topics ranging from pet safety and wellness to behavior, training and more.