As much fun as Halloween can be for you and your children, it can be a very stressful time for our four-legged family members. With flashing lights, spooky sounds, constant doorbell ringing and dozens of sugar-amped kids in costume, there is a lot to handle for your furry friends. Even if you don’t squeeze your dog or cat into a costume of their own this year, you still may have to put in some extra effort to keep your pets safe this Halloween.
Watch the Costumes
While it can make some cats and dogs happy to prance around in their own costume, most pets will view it only as a mild annoyance. If you plan on dressing up your pet, here are a few guidelines. Only keep them in costume for as long as it takes to get pictures if they are unhappy. Try to choose a costume that won’t restrict your pet’s movement, and use Velcro straps rather than elastic bands that can bunch up in fur and restrict blood flow. Finally, make sure the costume doesn’t have any easily chewable parts hanging off that your pet can eat or choke on.
Keep Your Pets Separate
Unless you have a very calm or very social dog, it’s probably best to keep them in a separate room away from the front door. Strangers can be stressful for dogs at the best of times, but when they’re wearing masks, ringing the doorbell and demanding candy, your pet might be a little spooked. This will also help keep them from darting out the front door, saving you the hassle of running them down in a crowded neighborhood.
Dress Them Appropriately
Whether they are in costume or not, make sure you add reflective tape or flashers to your pet’s costume or collar if you take them out to trick-or-treat with your family. This will help reduce any accidents and keep your pup from sneaking up on any ghouls and goblins on the sidewalk.
Keep Them Inside
That said, your pets (especially black cats) should be kept indoors before and during Halloween to keep them away from any neighborhood pranks.
Give Them Proper ID
You should always have ID on your cats and dogs, but Halloween is an especially dangerous time for pets, particularly for cats. Make sure to have ID tags on all your pets’ collars and consider microchipping any pet without one.
Store Candy Out of Reach
While you probably keep the candy bowl for trick-or-treaters well out of reach, make sure that your kids know to keep their goodies away from your pets. Chocolate and a handful of other candy chemicals can be especially harmful to dogs, but even candy wrappers can prove fatal if they become stuck in your pet’s digestive tract. If your pup takes a cue from your kids and begs for a treat, make sure to have a few good pet treats on hand. Keep your vet’s number or local Animal Poison Control Center on hand just in case someone gets into the candy jar.
Decorate With Care
Dog tails can cause frightening amounts of damage on a normal day, but with so much excitement around the house, you need to watch how you decorate. Keep all light strands and wires out of biting reach, and if you want to make your jack-o-lanterns extra spooky, use a flickering electric candle or LED rather than a flame candle to avoid tail trauma or knocked-over candles.
Vance Miller is a freelance writer for natural pet food company Natural Balance, a leader in natural and organic pet food since 1989.