Because Halloween falls just a few days before bonfire night, many dog owners dread this time of year because of the flashes and bangs that fireworks create, and there are few areas of the country that will not be within sight and earshot of fireworks. However, Halloween itself can also be stressful for dogs, and again, many people set off fireworks then too – and so being prepared for Halloween as well as bonfire night is a good idea.
Halloween hazards can be very easy to miss or overlook, and can potentially land your dog in hot water – so in this article, we will look at some of the potential problems that can arise on Halloween, and how to keep your dog safe and comfortable. Read on to learn more.
Perhaps the most obvious potential risk that dog owners should be alert for around Halloween is the proliferation of sweets and chocolate in many homes, as people stock up for trick or treat visitors, or Halloween parties.
Chocolate is of course a major hazard for dogs, as are many other types of sweets and treats, particularly those containing artificial sweeteners like Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Don’t leave bowls of sweets and candy on a shelf next to the front door, on a coffee table, or anywhere else your dog can reach. Also, if you are having a party or your children are going trick or treating, be vigilant about where the dog is at all times in relation to the sweets and chocolate, and keep track of all of the food!
Any time of the year when we eat different foods, there is the risk of bringing in easy-to-miss hazards that could be dangerous for your dog to eat, coupled with the fact that your attention is likely to be split and your dog potentially opportunistic!
If you are making or buying something special for Halloween snacks and drinks, take the same care with how you use and store it as you would with chocolate and sweets.
If you like to decorate your home for Halloween, you should be careful with what you use and where you put it, in the same way that you would be with Christmas décor. Small, loose parts, hanging lights and ornaments and things that light up, flash or are motion-activated are all potential targets for your dog, and may be harmful.
On Halloween itself, or in some cases, the weekends either side of the date, the streets may be busier than usual in the couple of hours after dark as children and parents go out trick or treating or heading off to parties.
This can be unnerving and daunting for dogs, especially given that the children are likely to be in costumes and quite excitable, so try to time your walks to avoid the worst of the rush, and so reduce your dog’s stress and ensure that both the dog and others are safe.
Many dogs become very reactive at the sound of the doorbell, or people coming up and down the drive to get to the door. On Halloween, in certain areas this may take the form of a steady stream of people in the early evening, which can wind your dog up and make them quite unruly or irritable.
Think about how you intend to manage this, both to reduce your dog’s stress levels, and ensure that they do not dart out or become aggressive when people do come up to the door.
The costumes and masks that many children and adults wear at Halloween can be unnerving for dogs, particularly if your face is covered or you are wearing a strange mask. This can trigger out-of-character reactions in dogs, so try to give people in dress-up a wide berth with your dog, and don’t put a mask or anything that will obscure your face on until you are out of your dog’s way.
Some families like to get the dog in on the act on Halloween, and dress them up just like the children! However, not all dogs take well to this, and while they may look cute, costumes and dressing up can be stressful for dogs, particularly if this is the first time you have done it and a lot of other things are going on as well.
Think carefully about whether or not it is in your dog’s best interests to dress them up on Halloween.
Finally, as mentioned, fireworks are very common at this time of year, and not just on bonfire night. As many people will be attending Halloween parties, it is almost inevitable that fireworks will be let off on Halloween as well as bonfire night, so take the usual steps to keep your dog calm and happy, and work at other times of the year to desensitise them to overreacting to fireworks and the light, noise and smells that they generate.