Halloween can be a treat or a trick for dogs. There's a lot going on — costumes, candy, decorations, visitors at the door — and any mishaps could send you straight to the emergency clinic. However, by following a few simple tips, you can keep ghoulish situations away. Your dog will be safe and happy which is our #1 priority at Pawzy.
Keep reading to find out the most important safety tips for dogs on Halloween.
As most pet parents already know, chocolate is extremely dangerous for dogs to consume. This is because dogs have difficulty metabolizing the toxic molecule theobromine which is found in all cocoa products. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and seizures.
Other types of candy can also be a risk if it contains the ingredient xylitol. Commonly used as an artificial sweetener, xylitol can be found in both sugar-free and non-sugar treats. It's a major concern because even in low doses it causes low blood sugar, liver failure and seizures.
And you know those small boxes of raisins that some houses give to trick and treaters? They're a no-no for dogs because they cause renal failure. Frankly, another good reason to not hand out raisins!
Lastly, candy wrappers and decorations can be an issue if your dog gobbles them up. They can cause an obstruction in your pet's throat or intestinal tract, sometimes requiring surgery to remove. Glow sticks can be a particular problem because they look like dog toys. If your dog punctures through the plastic, the toxic liquid will cause mouth irritation and pain.
If you suspect your dog has wrongly ingested any chocolate, candy or decorations, call your vet immediately.
Every time you open your front door to hand out candy, it's an opportunity for your pup to take off. You might be busy admiring someone's costume and not notice your dog slip away into the street. We recommend keeping dogs that are known Houdinis in a room with a closed door. If your dog barks or whines when they're left alone in a room, start training them as soon as possible. One technique is to close the door for a few seconds, to start with, and reward your dog with a treat when they stay quiet. Soon they'll know that good behaviours means tasty rewards.
Even if you're confident that your dog won't run away, we recommend putting on their collar and/or ID tags. That way, they'll be easier to find if anything happens.
It's also best to not keep your dog in the backyard during Halloween festivities. They could end up ingesting dropped candy or become part of a prank. We like to think that all trick or treaters are well-intentioned, but thrown eggs or toilet paper could seriously harm your pup.
As dog lovers, it's important to realize that not everyone feels comfortable around our furry pals. Approximately 7-9% of the population has cynophobia, or a fear of dogs. This percentage is higher for children under the age of 14. Putting up a "Beware of Dog" can help parents and kids prepare themselves for your dog even if you know that there's no risk of biting. If you don't want to go with a traditional sign, Etsy has some cute options that do the job without scaring away your neighbours.
A well-placed sign can also help with dogs that bark up a storm when the doorbell rings. We also like Etsy for "Please don't ring" signs. Not only will your neighbours and your ears thank you, but your dog will stay calm throughout the evening.
If you have time to work on doorbell training, that wouldn't hurt either. Have someone else ring the doorbell and reward your dog with a treat every time they don't bark. Over time, your dog will learn that it's a better idea to not bark than bark! That being said, some dog breeds are more prone to barking than others. Try out Pawzy's breed selector to find the right dog for your lifestyle, or take a scroll through the top 10 quietest dogs.
Yes, dogs look super cute in Halloween costumes...but that doesn't mean that all dogs like being dressed up in them. If your dog is signalling that they're unhappy or uncomfortable, take off the outfit and try something easier to wear. A simple themed bandana or fancy harness can do the trick.
It's also important to watch out for costumes with loose parts that could end up in your dog's stomach. Beads, sequins, buttons, ribbons, elastics, yarn and other materials are intestinal hazards. Costumes can also be a source of stress and anxiety for dogs if they lead to overheating, impaired vision, restrictive movement or cause difficulty breathing.
Dog owners that don't pay attention to their dog's feelings about a costume can discover unwanted accidents on the floor in protest. Don't be hard on your dog if this happens. Halloween can be a stressful time and they'll be back to normal in no time.