How To Have A Safe And Fun Halloween
Halloween can be a magical night where people of all ages don face paint, wigs, and costumes, transforming into mythical fairies, comical clowns, or spooky ghosts. Under a hazy moon and the scuttle of falling leaves, we traipse door to door for a night of sweets, laughter, and a few good-natured scares.
So where does your pet fit into this fun? The answer is going to be different for every animal, but there are some general guidelines to be aware of. As pet parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our furry family members are also having a safe and fun evening.
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep your pets away from all human snacks and candy, but there are a few foods that can be especially harmful or even deadly to our pets. Some of the most common toxins to be wary of on Halloween are chocolate, xylitol, and raisins. These can all be highly toxic even in small doses.
If you believe your pet may have ingested something harmful, don’t hesitate to call a 24 hour veterinary clinic such as SVS Downtown: 206-624-9111 or the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline: 888-426-4435 and seek professional advice.
If your pet is a scavenger and you have trouble keeping their nose off the ground on walks, you might consider leaving them at home on Halloween to avoid possible ingestion of dropped sweets.
If you do decide to bring your pooch along for the fun, keep them leashed at all times, and instruct anyone with you (adults and children!) not to share their sugary loot with them. Consider bringing a baggie of dog treats to keep them distracted and happy.
You’ve got all the pieces to your best clown costume together, and now it’s time to decide on a costume for Fido.
Remember, your pup won’t know that she’s dressed as the most beautiful butterfly fairy princess in West Seattle, but she will know if she’s comfortable or not. When choosing a costume, think about your individual dog’s needs. That Yeti costume with the long sleeves and fake fur might not be the best idea for Fred the Husky, as he could become overheated. Alternatively, Daisy the hairless Chihuahua might want something a little warmer than a hula girl costume for a cold October night.
Another thing to keep in mind is costume constriction. Any get-up that doesn’t allow freedom of movement, rubs under the armpits, hips, neck, or limits vision should be avoided. Do not leave your pet unattended in a costume.
Avoid using any paints or dyes that are not canine approved as these can be harmful to the skin, or harmful internally if your pooch ingests them by licking.
Halloween is a very busy night with lots of people and other pets running around. Consider choosing a costume that makes your pup easy to spot if they get loose, or adding some bicyclist lights to their harness for visibility.
- Make a large Beanie Baby tag out of cardboard or construction paper and attach to your dog’s collar: easy to make, hardly noticed by your pet!
- Use a red t-shirt to turn your golden/yellow dog into Winnie the Pooh. Make it a warm fleece for small dogs that might easily get cold.
- Similar to above, use a Superman t-shirt to turn Finn into the bravest dog on the block.
- Using an eyeliner pencil, draw a scar on your dog’s forehead to turn him into Hairy Pawter. Just remember to wipe it off at the end of the night!
If your pet appears uncomfortable or stressed (ears down or back, eyes looking to the side, hunched back, tail down) take off the costume. A funny outfit is not worth their discomfort.
When decorating for Halloween, be aware that changes in your home may be stressful for pets. Large decorations that make noise can be very frightening, and some decorations even pose a danger to your pets.
Fake cobwebs, fake spiders, and rubber eyeballs can all pose a choking or intestinal obstruction risk. Fake cobwebs can also entangle wildlife if used to decorate the outside of your home.
Choose decorations that aren’t enticing to pets, and place them in locations that are out of reach to curious kitties.
There are a few things to consider from your pet’s perspective to ensure they have a happy and safe evening. Does your pet like crowds? Do they like meeting strangers of both the human and dog variety? Do they like kids? Do they love everyone except tall men with beards or women in sunglasses? Be aware of your dog’s unique triggers and think about how they may manifest on Halloween night. Even people your pet knows may look and smell different.
Your pet may have the time of their life going door to door with you, but it’s important to consider their unique temperament. If you’re unsure if they will be stressed, it’s best to leave them at home.
As far as felines go, they’ll be far happier relaxing at home. Though Halloween and cats may seem to go hand in hand, crowds can cause a great deal of undue stress and anxiety in felines.
If you do decide to leave your dog at home, make sure they are kept indoors. Not only may trick-or-treaters open gates to come to your door and accidentally let them out of the yard, but there is always a chance an unsavory character may decide Halloween night is a good time to play a cruel trick on an animal. Many people still have superstitions about cats, so if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, try to keep them indoors. While you may not have control over the actions of strangers, you can keep your pets the safest by keeping them inside.
If you plan to hand out candy, and your pets are protective of your home or wary of strangers and noise, consider setting up a room in the house where they can hang out away from the front door opening. This is especially important for indoor only kitties that may bolt with frequent door openings.
Whether bringing your pet trick or treating or leaving them at home, make sure they are microchipped and wearing current ID collars and tags in case they get loose.
Most importantly, remember that Halloween is just another day to our furry family members. The best thing you can do for them amidst all the hullabaloo is to make their evening as normal, calm, and safe as possible.