Halloween can be a frightening time for family dogs. Each Halloween, veterinarians nationwide see pet injuries that could have been avoided. Here are some ways we can protect pets:
Walk your dog before trick-or-treaters start their visits. Keep a firm grip on the leash; many dogs are frightened by people in costumes.
Find a secure place in your home to keep your dogs, especially if you're giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. Many dogs get loose when the door opens, and the presence of little (and big) costumed people often scares animals, increasing the chance dogs will run away or get hit by cars.
Make sure your dog is wearing an up-to-date I.D. tag.
Place a dog gate in front of your front door to block access in case someone accidentally lets your pet out of the place where he's confined. Many dogs will run after trick-or-treaters.
If your dog has any aggressive tendencies, fear of loud noises, or a habit of excessive barking, place him in a quiet room as far away from your front door as possible at least a half-hour before trick-or-treaters arrive.
Consider crating your pet, which can make him feel more secure and reduce chances of accidental escapes. Provide chew toys, a favorite blanket, a piece of clothing with your scent on it, or whatever comforts the animal. Play soft music or a recording of soothing sounds.
If you want to have your dog near the door to greet visitors, keep him on leash. Pets can become very stressed by holiday activities and unwelcome interruptions in routine. A nervous dog might feel threatened and growl, lunge or bite.
Keep dogs indoors. It's a bad idea to leave dogs out in the yard; in addition to the parade of holiday celebrants frightening and agitating them, there have been reports of taunting, poisonings and pet thefts. Plus they're likely to bark and howl at the constant flow of treat or treaters.
Keep dogs out of the candy bowl. Dispose of candy wrappers before your pets get to them, since the wrappers can cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Make sure the dogs can't get into the trash. Note: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is -- and the smaller the lethal dose.
Explain to everyone in your home (including kids) how dangerous treats are to pets. Take young children's candy supply and put it somewhere out of reach of pets. Caution children about leaving candy wrappers on the floor.
Make sure pets can't reach candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations or ornaments.
Halloween costumes can annoy animals and pose safety and health hazards...so think twice before dressing up the dog. Make sure the dog can breathe, see and hear, and that the costume is flame retardant. Remove any small or dangling accessories that could be chewed and swallowed. Avoid rubber bands, which can cut off the animal's circulation or, if accidentally left on, can burrow and cut into the animal's skin.
If the animal is very high-strung, consult your vet about tranquilizing for the night.
When walking dogs during or after Halloween, watch carefully for what they might pick up and choke on. Bits of candy and wrappers abound on sidewalks and streets after holidays.
If you notice these symptoms of chocolate poisoning, go to your vet or an emergency vet right away because your pet's life may be in danger:
Vomiting and diarrhea
Muscle tremors and seizures