With the arrival of fall comes a favourite celebration of the season – Halloween. And while Halloween can be a lot of fun for both children and adults, it can be a lot less fun for your dog. Extra people on the streets, firecrackers, trick-or-treaters at the door, costumes and extra chocolate around the house can all cause added stress and danger for your dog. The following are a few things to watch out for and some suggestions of what you can do to mitigate it this Halloween.
Firecrackers: While great fun for a lot of people firecrackers are NOT a dog’s best friend. The loud cracks and bangs often cause dogs to become nervous and agitated. If your dog is prone to getting upset when firecrackers are going off there are a few things you can do to help.
- 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-treaters: 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.
Chocolate: 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) immediately 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.
If you take the right steps Halloween can be a safe and enjoyable evening for your entire family!