Halloween can be a very stressful time for your dog. Between firecrackers going off in the neighbourhood, people with costumes wandering the streets or knocking at your door and the risk of getting into some toxic candy there is a lot to be concerned about. Luckily there are some things that you can do to make sure this fall favourite is fun for everyone in your family – including the dog!
Keep reading for information and tips for a safe and happy Halloween:
- Trick or Treat Visitors to your House
- The dangers of Halloween candy (especially chocolate)
- Avoiding potentially stressful situations (for your dog) with costumed people on the street
- Dressing up your dog
- Fun Halloween events for your dog
Fireworks are a Halloween tradition for many people, and while they can be lots of fun they can also be disruptive and stressful for your dog. The loud cracks and bangs often cause dogs to become nervous, agitated and sometimes distressed.
Fireworks Information for Greater Vancouver and BC:
If you live in Metro Vancouver fireworks ARE allowed as long as you have free permit and set them off in your backyard. They may ONLY be set off on Halloween, however many people do not abide by this rule and set them off in the days leading up to the event. Information on purchasing fireworks and rules for using them can be found in this CBC article.
Other areas of greater Vancouver that allow fireworks on Halloween include New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and the District of North Vancouver.
Many municipalities around Vancouver do not allow the sale or use of fireworks AT ALL. These include Richmond, Coquitlam, Abbotsford, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Langley.
If you aren’t sure if your area allows fireworks be sure to check first! You can also read up on fireworks bylaws across British Columbia.
Because fireworks can be so stressful for pets there is currently a “Change.org” petition out asking Metro Vancouver to ban the use of fireworks outright.
What can you do to help your Pet?
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise during the day so that they are content to stay inside and relax in the evening when firecrackers are most likely to be going off.
- Provide a safe area for your dog to retreat to if they are nervous. If your dog is crate trained that may be a good option. Dogs are den animals and feel safe in smaller, enclosed spaces. Make sure your dogs bed or favourite blanket is there to provide comfort and if a human is close by to provide comfort that is even better.
- If your dog is extremely anxious during fireworks consider a product like a thunder coat – a coat that fits snugly around your dog making them feel more secure.
Trick or Treat!
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting to check out all of the great costumes the trick-or-treaters wear to your door. Your dog however may find this LESS fun. Constant knocking or doorbells may cause your dog to feel on edge and like they need to protect your home. In order to help keep your dog calm (and avoid frightening any canine adverse trick-or-treaters at your door) make sure that your dog is in another room without access to the door. It’s best if someone can be in the room with them and that they have other things to distract them like a favourite treat or toy.
By now you probably know that chocolate and dogs DO NOT mix. Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) is toxic to dogs. The level of toxicity depends on the size of the dog, the strength of the chocolate and the amount that the dog consumed. So make sure you keep the bowl of chocolate treats out of reach of the dog and if you have kids bringing bags of Halloween treats home make sure they are not left where the dog can find them. If your dog does consume chocolate contact your vet immediately (or an emergency vet if your vet is not open) to determine what treatment is required.
People and Costumes:
On Halloween night the streets tend to be busier with dressed up children and adults heading out to various Halloween activities. The sight of so many people out and about – especially dressed in unfamiliar costumes – can be upsetting to your dog and may cause them to become agitated. In order to avoid the added stress of walking your dog while the streets are busy try and exercise your dog earlier in the day. If possible wait until after the activity on the streets has quieted before taking your dog out for their bedtime bathroom break.
You’ve likely seen them – those adorable dog costumes in the your favourite pet store. Or maybe you’re talented and are thinking of making one yourself. One thing is for sure, dressing up your dog for Halloween is getting more and more popular. Many local stores even have “best dressed dog” contests or photo opportunities.
My girl Avy really enjoys dressing up. She loves showing off her costume and especially all of the “oh she’s so cute” comments that she gets everywhere she goes. But not all dogs are so easy going when it comes to costumes. If you have never dressed your dog up before make sure you try the costume out at home before you attempt to take them out for a walk or to an event while wearing it. You may want to consider introducing your dog to the outfit slowly – putting it on at home for short periods of time in the days leading up to Halloween.
If you take the right steps Halloween can be a safe and enjoyable evening for your entire family!