If you’re an avid follower on any of the huge number of social media platforms that feature brachycephalic dogs like pugs and French bulldogs as their stars, your feeds are probably already full of pictures of adorable flat-faced dogs in Halloween costumes, or otherwise highlighting the fun of the season itself.
Like many dog lovers, people who own brachycephalic dogs often like to involve their dogs in everything that they do at Halloween, whether that means giving your dog an extra walk by letting them go out trick or treating with the kids, or taking them along to that glamorous Halloween party you’re planning attending in a prize-winning costume!
However, Halloween can be stressful for dogs of all types, and any time of the year that results in stress, upheaval, a change in routine or the suspension of the normal way things work can bring with it potential dangers for dogs too. Brachycephalic dogs have special care requirements that their owners need to consider over and above those faced by other dogs too, and once more, Halloween can have an impact on these as well.
With this in mind, this article will share five tips to help you to keep your brachycephalic dog safe on Halloween, and to highlight some of the potential dangers and challenges of Halloween for brachycephalic dogs that you might have overlooked.
Read on to learn more.
As mentioned, if you follow any forms of dog-related social media feeds your feeds are probably already packed with pictures of flat-faced dogs in costume, and it is totally understandable that you might be keen to get your own brachycephalic dog in on the act too with a costume of their own.
However, before you click “buy” on that awesome pug-in-a-pumpkin outfit with dreams of Instagram stardom in mind, stop.
Is dressing your dog up really in their best interests? Probably not. Unlike coats to keep your dog warm or booties and accessories to help them in cold weather, costumes for dogs are actually “for” humans, to entertain us and make us smile. That is fine, as long as the costume doesn’t have a negative impact on your dog, but very often it will; and that impact is often most acute for brachycephalic dogs.
Some of the key concerns here are that the costume might potentially restrict your dog’s breathing, hamper their ability to display body language that indicates their mood and have it interpreted accurately by other dogs and people, raise their temperature, and place them under stress – all of which are apt to result in stress responses, which can affect your dog’s breathing.
If your dog is used to wearing a coat for walks and accepts this happily, there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick a seasonally appropriate one for them though!
If you’re planning on dressing up or even if your children are, don’t forget that your costume is going to look and even smell weird to your dog – and few of us can resist getting into character too, which is often noisy and highly amusing when everyone is running around cackling or making werewolf noises!
Your dog on the other hand will be confused, and might be unnerved – particularly if you are behaving erratically, have covered your face, or are wearing a large, light-up, unusual or otherwise potentially daunting outfit.
This in turn can cause a stress response in your dog, which for brachycephalic dogs, might impact their breathing. Introduce your dog to your costume carefully and slowly, be reassuring, and don’t ever deliberately scare your dog with it.
Even if you’ve discounted dressing your dog up because this is a sensible choice in regards to their welfare, be in no doubt that many people find those cute flat faces irresistible. At times of the year when treats and food are all around and people are giving them out freely, this is likely to mean that your dog’s ability to win swag is even better than normal!
However, this is not a good thing, as sweets and unknown food – or even too much of any food – can be hugely harmful to your dog’s health, so keep a very close eye on them when you’re out to ensure that they’re not scavenging food or being fed by someone well meaning, and give strict instructions to your children and any visitors not to share their treats with the dog!
Whether or not you take your dog out trick or treating with the children, let your children take the dog alone, or leave the dog at home is something for every dog owner to decide for themselves. If you are seeking advice, then the best advice is to leave your dog safely at home, where they cannot scavenge, won’t be scared by busy streets, and won’t run the risk of being supervised by kids with split attentions.
However, we know that many people do take their brachycephalic dogs out trick or treating, and some dogs really enjoy this; particularly if it means an extra walk, and a few more dog-safe treats in thanks for helping you to win a little more candy!
If you do take your dog trick or treating with you, keep a close eye on how they’re coping, that you’re not pushing them too far, that their breathing is ok, that their collar or harness is not restrictive, and that they’re not getting stressed or worn out.
Remember that you also have to get the dog home too, so turn back or instruct your children to turn back before your dog starts flagging.
Whether you’re getting fully involved in Halloween with a party at home, leaving the kids to it, or offering treats to trick or treaters at the door – or hoping to ignore it all entirely – Halloween can be stressful for dogs, and for brachycephalic dogs, this impacts upon their breathing.
Take steps to keep your dog calm and comfortable, minimise noise from outside, and keep a quiet area of the home for your dog to relax in. Monitor their breathing and stress levels, keep dangerous foods out of the way, and factor in the possibility that people may let of fireworks on Halloween too, and how your dog will cope with this.
There is no reason why your flat-faced dog can’t have great fun with you and the rest of the family at Halloween at all, and assuming that they’re healthy and relaxed, you don’t need to wrap them in cotton wool; but don’t forget about the special care requirements of flat-faced dogs at this time of the year either.