Children and adults enjoy Halloween. Not so all dogs and cats.
Some of our furry friends enjoy being part of the merriment and festivities. They're extroverted and adventurous, or maybe just tolerant.
But Halloween can be frightening and dangerous for pets. Your pet may be shy or uncertain about the people knocking on your door and the strange noises they hear Halloween night.
Avoid heartache and disaster. Considering the following:
If your pet likes to dress up, or tolerates having clothing attached to them, by all means make them part of the fun. But beware of anything that binds or constricts anywhere on the body, any small foreign bodies that could be ingested, and anything that could be toxic if swallowed.
Think about how frightening something like a popping balloon could be if attached to your pet. Watch for any signs of anxiety or fear, and take any steps necessary to make the costume comfortable and non-threatening. Always closely supervise your pet when wearing the costume.
Candy and Treats
No candy for the pets. Chocolate is toxic and sugar is bad for animals. Xylitol in some of the sugar-free gums and candies can be deadly. Small treats can get lodged in the throat, and swallowed oddities can cause serious gastro-intestinal upset. Any food product that is not in the usual diet of your pet can cause trouble, as can excessive and unaccustomed quantities. Keep all the candy and treats safely out of reach.
Noise and Strangers
These can be very scary for your pet. For those cats and dogs upset by noise, a quiet room behind a closed door and away from the commotion is best. Perhaps turn on the TV or the radio for distraction.
You'll be opening your door for trick-or-treaters, and the urge to escape may be irresistible and unexpected. If your pet is to be a greeter with you, have some kind of attachment or barrier to prevent a slippery exit.
Be aware that some of your guests might be frightened of dogs or cats, so be sure your four-legged assistant is kept at a respectful distance and does not approach the door unless invited by YOU.
Candles and Flames
Keep your pets away from open flames or objects, like Jack-o-Lanterns, that contain candles. Some dogs like to chew on pumpkins. Pets may accidently knock over lanterns or other objects placed on or near the floor. Avoid accidents by preventing them. Think ahead.
Trick-or-Treating with Your Dog
If your dog is calm and happy, it's okay to take them along as you accompany your children trick-or-treating, but keep them on a sturdy leash. An adult should be in charge of the pet, and both should stay safely and respectfully at a distance while the young trick-or-treaters approach front doors.
Be polite. Don't allow your dog to approach homeowners or other trick-or-treaters, unless invited.
Have a Happy Halloween
You can have a lot of fun with your pet IF they are a willing participant.
Janet Lemke, D.V.M.
Dr. Janet Lemke obtained her doctorate in veterinary medicine after working as an analyst in the Life Sciences Division at the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service. Since graduating from the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, she has practiced in Northern Virginia concentrating on canine and feline medicine and health.