It’s that creepy time of year again when the leaves fall, the air turns crisp and the ghouls and ghosts come out to haunt! But for our dogs this time of year can be as scary as a visit from Michael Myers himself. Walking my own dog down the street yesterday morning I watched as we rounded a corner and he tensed and locked his eyes on a huge skeleton with trailing black fabric hanging from a nearby tree. He was spooked, and I don’t blame him.
On just a regular walk around the block all of a sudden our dog’s calm neighbourhoods have been transformed into graveyards, caution taped haunted houses and are fraught with dangling ghosts and skeletons. And that’s without all the trick-or treaters, pumpkins and flashing lights! Spooky to us - yes - but to our dogs, it triggers their natural protective nature and can cause them both anxiety and fear.
So how do we help our dogs have a fun Halloween? For most of them the safest and best option is to keep them calm and quietly tucked away inside a bedroom or cozy basement when the trick or treating starts. Ideally somewhere where they don’t have access to the front door (to avoid them bolting out the door when it opens for the hundredth time) and where the doorbell rings and knocks aren’t as audible. Consider using the TV or the radio as a distractor to overcome the noise of the front door can be helpful. It’s also ideal to make sure that your dog has had a nice long walk in the afternoon (before the activity begins) and has had their dinner. All of these things will help to keep them calm and relaxed while strangers dressed in funny costumes parade to their front door.
If you feel that your pet is not going to be concerned about the trick or treaters and decide to take your dog out with you make sure that they are on a very secure leash or harness. It is still best to exercise them in the afternoon so that their energy is lower, despite all the hubbub going on around them. It is also a good idea to make sure that they have their tags and collar on in case they do panic and slip away from you. Although you trust your dog keep a sharp eye out for situations that may scare them, as they may be exposed to costumes or behaviours that they have never encountered before.
Don’t forget to also consider where you put your lit pumpkin - as tails can easily knock things over that appear otherwise stable. Similarly, keep a close eye on the candy! Wrapped or not these bite size snacks are temptations for all of us; 2 and 4 footed alike, but can lead to serious gastric upset and even toxicity in some cases.
As always, if you have concerns about your dog, or need more suggestions as to how approach the Halloween festivities then the vets at Healthy Pets are just a phone call away.
We hope that you have a safe and spooktacular Halloween!
For more ideas on keeping your dogs safe at Halloween you can follow these links: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/halloween-safety.html https://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/pets/article/10-halloween-safety-tips-for-pet-owners