Halloween is around the corner, and a lot of commotion will be happening on this fun, spooky night. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this can make things unsafe for our pets.
In fact, Halloween is the most dangerous holiday of the year for our companion animals next to the Fourth of July.
You might want to take your pup out trick-or-treating with the family — remember social distance and masks for humans! — or stay home to hand out treats to kids in costumes. Either way, make sure you take all the necessary precautions to have a safe and happy holiday.
Here are a few tips for keeping your dog out of danger on Halloween night.
1. Keep Candy Treats Away From Dogs
Keep all candy treats out of reach of dogs. Chocolate is toxic to canines, as are artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is a common ingredient in candy.
Several other ingredients in candy are bad for dogs too, like sugar, dyes, flavoring, and other chemicals. In high enough amounts, they can easily cause a trip to the emergency vet. Even if your dog doesn’t need a hospital visit, they certainly won’t want an upset stomach tomorrow.
Candy wrappers and packaging can lead to choking or gastrointestinal obstructions, which can be deadly. If you or anyone in your home eats candy, make sure to throw away the wrappers in a secure trash can that your dog can’t open.
2. Secure Your Dog Away From The Door
If your dog tends to sneak out the front door when you open it, it might be best to crate them or keep them in a bedroom for a few hours for safety — and sanity.
With trick-or-treaters and Halloween guests stopping by, you’ll probably be opening and closing the door pretty frequently. If you get distracted, your pooch could easily get past you and bolt.
You can set up a safe space for your dog in a comfortable room of the house with some calming music playing. Give your dog fresh water and check on them often. This is a good way to keep them away from the door and let them relax on this stressful night.
Another solution is to sit outside with your bowl of candy for trick-or-treaters so you don’t need to open the door at all. This will also cut back on knocking and doorbells that could make your dog anxious.
3. Be Careful With Decorations
Lots of Halloween decorations are small, shiny, and attractive to curious dogs. The can easily become choking hazards if a pup decides to chew on them.
Cords can tangle dogs up, and electronics can easily become fire hazards if they get damaged. Speaking of fire hazards, any decorations that include candles or open flames present dangers, too. Happy tail wags can knock over a jack-o-lantern or Halloween candle.
Of course, never leave your dog at home alone with an open flame, either. Pets cause over 1,000 accidental house fires each year. Don’t become a statistic.
4. Stay Visible And Use A Leash For Walks And Potty Breaks
If you’re taking your dog out door-to-door, make sure you have a good, solid leash and harness. Also, make sure the leash is short, and keep your dog at your side. Scary strangers in costumes can frighten dogs and cause them to bolt, so keep a firm grip.
Do not leave your dog out in the yard unsupervised on Halloween night. It’s just not safe with so many people roaming the neighborhoods. Go with your dog on potty breaks and keep them on leash.
Wear reflective gear and carry flashlights if you go out walking or trick-or-treating, especially in neighborhoods with no street lights. This includes your pup. They should have reflectors on their harness, collar, and leash.
Pay attention to traffic lights and signs, and make sure drivers can see you. It can be easy to get distracted with all the people in costume walking around, so make absolutely sure you’re seen when crossing streets.
5. Obey The Laws
Stay on the sidewalk and don’t walk in the street. This seems pretty obvious but sometimes people get careless and zigzag across the streets, especially when going house to house for trick-or-treating.
It can be easy to fall into a false sense of security with all the people outside. You may think that drivers are paying closer attention and driving slower, but there are plenty of people who get distracted while driving and, unfortunately, there are also a few people who drive after having too many drinks at the Halloween party.
It’s just not safe. Stay on the sidewalks and use the crosswalks. The laws are there for your safety, and they’re especially important on nights like this.
6. Feed And Walk Your Dog Beforehand
Feeding your dog before the Halloween action begins will help make sure they won’t be looking for food and snacks. A hungry pooch may start looking for treats, and the candy bowl is full of tempting — and dangerous — foods.
Keep some dog treats around so your pup can partake in the Halloween fun. That way, if they still get hungry, you can give them something to snack on.
Give your dog a long walk earlier in the day, too. This will help cut back on anxiety and help them relax later on. A tired dog is much less likely to look for trouble.
7. Don’t Force Your Dog To Wear A Costume
Some dogs like the extra pampering and attention from getting dressed up while others hate feeling confined in costumes. Pay attention to your dog’s body language, and if they seem uncomfortable, take off the costume.
If your dog is going to wear a costume, it’s best to get your photos right away so you can take off any accessories that might be annoying to your dog or make it difficult for them to see or walk. It’s fun to play dress up, but don’t force your dog to wear anything they’re uncomfortable with.
Also, never leave a dog unsupervised in a costume. They could try to chew it and pull off pieces that they could choke on, or they could get tangled up in it. Take the costume off whenever your dog is out of eyesight.
8. Your Dog Must Wear ID
Microchips are great and can get your dog back to you if they get lost, and you should absolutely make sure your dog’s chip info is updated. However, the quickest and easiest way for anyone to get your dog back to you is with an old-fashioned collar ID tag.
Accidents happen, and even if you’re responsible and keep your dog safely indoors, you never know what could go wrong.
Too many dogs end up at shelters after Halloween night, and this will be your best chance of being reunited with them quickly if the worst happens.
9. Prepare For Emergencies
Any number of things can happen on Halloween, and you must prepare just in case your dog needs help.
Save the phone number and address of your local animal emergency room in your phone for an emergency. Keep it on the fridge, too, so anyone in your home can find it easily.
You may also want to keep the ASPCA pet poison hotline number handy. It’s (888) 426-4435. You may be charged for the call, but it’s worth it if your dog’s life is in danger and you can’t reach your emergency vet.
10. Have Fun, But Don’t Get Too Distracted
Halloween is one of the most fun holidays of the year for many of us. However, if you have a dog, you can’t let that fun distract you.
Many people like to drink and party on this holiday, which is totally fine. But an emergency can put that fun to an end quickly. Alcohol is toxic to pets, so if you plan to drink, keep the alcohol out of reach, and make sure guests do the same.
In fact, if you plan to drink and party, you should absolutely create a safe, secure space for your dog in a room away from the action. You don’t want your pup getting hurt by careless guests.
Focus on your dog’s needs, and check on them frequently. Take them out for potty breaks. Make sure they have water. Don’t get so distracted by the fun that you forget to take care of your pup.
Halloween isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. If keeping your dog safe means you have to sit out on the fun this year, it’s worth it. Don’t let celebrating one night of the year put your dog in harm’s way.
We hope you all have a happy and healthy Halloween out there!
Do you have any other Halloween safety tips for dog parents? How do you keep your pup safe on this holiday? Let us know in the comments below, and post pics of your Halloween pooches!