Trick or treat: The Spookiest Night of the Year

Many participate in this event that happens once a year and some of you include your dog. Do you keep your pet safe? Do you dress up your dog for the festivities?

Is it harmless fun – or animal cruelty?

With social media craze and Instagram pet parents love to post their cute photos of their dogs in costumes. People love to see them but how does your dog feel about it? Some approve and some don’t. Dogs do wear coats, boots and harnesses so they may be used to having something on them. My dogs wear sweaters and coats and yes, I have dressed my dogs up. They love it and I ensure it’s a positive experience.  I’m very aware of their body language and demeanor when I do. Any stress and off it goes.

Not every dog is comfortable with a lot of handling and having garments put on so beware.

Some Key Pointers to Remember for Halloween:

  1. Avoid Force
    When dressing up your dog remember some of those costumes involve putting legs into sleeves or putting something on their head. Beware that dogs body movements are not the same as ours and you can injure them if pulling their legs in the wrong direction.
  2. Avoid Dye or Hair Color
    Tiger strips and purple hair may make a great costume but beware of the toxins that those products may contain that can be harmful to your pet. Stick to the natural look or use non-toxic products.
  3. Make it enjoyable and not just for you!
    When doing new things or having your dog experience new outfits make it fun for them. Reward and play. Costumes are more for our enjoyment then theirs so make sure it’s fun.
  4. Get Costumes for Comfort
    Avoid polyester or nylon as your dog already has a fur coat and this material can make them hot as it doesn’t breathe. Anything they wear should allow them to move comfortably.
  5. Watch for signs of discomfort
    Your dog will let you know if they are unhappy with their costume. Their body language will tell you so. If they don’t move or cower then forget the costume all together. Watch for the subtle signs such as licking their lips or yawning.
  6. Stash the Treats
    Some candy can be toxic for dogs. If you are buying treats to shell out ensure your dog doesn’t sneak one. Chocolate in all forms must be avoided and some sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems for your dog. If you notice your dog has ingested some contact your veterinarian immediately.
  7. Watch the Decorations
    Pumpkins with candles and wires should be steered clear of. If a pumpkin is knocked over it could easy start a furry fire. Sounds and décor can scare your dog so keep a close eye on them and have treats to focus their attention away from some.
  8. Easily Identifiable
    Halloween brings lots of activity. If you are home with your pet keep them away from the door so they avoid getting spooked. When opening the door for the trick or treaters make sure your dog can’t bolt. An collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can ensure if they do they’ll be returned to you easily.
  9. Prepare your Pup
    With a new pup it’s important to get them used to sounds, people and activities you will be participating in. Take them to out and about and expose them to the world so when these events happen they will be desensitized to them.
  10. Costume Rehearsal
    If you know your dog is okay with a costume get them used to it before the Halloween night. Have a dress rehearsal.

Halloween is a festive time for families so make sure it is for your dog too. The more you prepare them for events like this the more comfortable your dog will be. Keep it a scare-free night for your furry family member.