Halloween is meant to be fun and maybe just a little scary for us people, but have you ever thought about what it might mean for your pet? Here are my top five tips for a safe and happy Halloween for your dog or cat.
1. Bring your pet indoors. All of the strangers out and about in crazy, silly, and scary costumes is enough reason to keep your pet safely indoors. All of the strange activity can be really frightening to a cat or dog who may run away, or even become aggressive if cornered. Cats, black cats in particular, are at risk in part due to Halloween superstitions that portray them as unlucky or frightening, but they can also be easy targets since they’re more active at night. Dogs are at risk too, people may use the cover and distraction of Halloween to frighten, tease, or even harm your dog. In any case, there’s no need to risk even the additional stress brought on by all of the strangeness, keep you
2. Costumes are fun, but not for everyone. If you’re thinking of dressing your pet in costume, be sure to consider their comfort and safety. Pet’s who aren’t used to wearing clothing may find the whole experience uncomfortable and may try to squirm away or hide. If you want your pet to wear a costume, first select one that fits safely. Do your best to make sure there are no chewing or choking hazards, and that your pet will not be injured should they get their costume caught on something. Introduce the costume before the day of Halloween. Let your pet get used to the costume itself before ever putting it on him, and do some trial periods of wearing the costume before you try to take family pictures. As usual, this is a great time to use your pet’s regular meals or treats to your advantage. Make the costume a positive thing.
3. Trick-or-treaters at your home can lead to a number of concerns. Does your pet like to dash out the door, bark when the door bell rings, or warn off “intruders?” First and foremost, keep your pet and your Halloween guests safe. If there is any question of your pet escaping, frightening, or injuring someone, put him in another room for the night, door closed. Play some relaxing music, and provide your pet with a Thundershirt, frozen stuffed Kong, or puzzle toy as appropriate to keep him relaxed and happy.
If your pet will be able to happily and calmly greet spooky visitors at the door with you, or if there will be two or more people at home, this is a great opportunity to brush up on your dog’s doorbell manners! You could practice having your pet go to a mat and relax while you get the door, or simply having him wait a step or two behind you and out of the way. Just make sure to keep everyone safe, and don’t let your pet sneak any of the wrong sort of treats.
4. Trick-or-treating with your pet? If your pet is “bombproof,” well socialized, and happy to greet new people and situations head on, but with good manners, you may consider taking him trick-or-treating with you. I’ll tell you now this is not going to be appropriate for most pets. If you’re one of the lucky few, you may be taking your dog or cat out in a pet stroller or on a securely fitted harness. Follow the “rules” here, don’t allow your pet to rush, jump on, or knock over other people. Don’t allow your pet to grab at costumes, hands, or bags and buckets of candy. Take clean up bags with you and clean up and dispose of pet waste appropriately. Don’t force your pet into situations where they are uncomfortable, uncontrollable, or afraid.
5. Watch the treats. You’re likely to have all kinds of treats around the house this time of year, most of them not meant for pets. Make certain that any treats you’ve gathered for yourself, trick-or-treaters, or that your children have brought home are kept out of reach of your pet. Chocolate and sugar free candies can be especially harmful, but anything with loads of sugar isn’t going to be good for your pet.
However you celebrate this holiday, have fun, and make sure your pet has a happy Halloween too!