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Halloween poses a host of horrors for pets. This haunting holiday is no treat for the family dog. Halloween's tradition of candy, costumes and trick-or-treating can be a threatening and potentially dangerous time for dogs.

What is a fun time for children can be a very stressful time for the family dog.  It's natural for families, especially children, to try to include their family dog in the fun; however, this is one holiday the pet should probably forgo.

There are a number of hazards that dog owners should consider during Halloween:

  • Don't leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween: There are plenty of stories of vicious pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, even killed pets on this night.  
  • Loud and excessive noise created by Trick-or-Treaters can frighten your pet. Pets, especially dogs that are easily excitable or threatened by strangers, should be kept away from the front door to keep them from biting strangers or running into the street.
  • Don't dress the dog in costume unless you know he loves it. Otherwise, it puts a lot of stress on the animal.  If you do dress up your dog, make sure the costume isn't constricting, annoying or unsafe. Be wary of costumes that contain rubber bands to keep them in place on the animal. If rubber bands are mistakenly left on the pet after the costume comes off, they can quickly burrow into the animal's skin.  
  • Be careful not to obstruct her vision even the sweetest dogs can get snappy when they can't see what's going on around them.

  • All but the most social dogs should be kept in a separate room during Trick-or-Treat visiting hours; too many strangers in strange garb can be scary for a dog.

  • Be careful your dog doesn't dart out through the open door.

  • Pets are better off left at home during Trick-or-Treat excursions; however, if they are taken along, it is best to keep them on a very short leash to keep them from fighting with other animals or biting strangers they encounter.

  • Many dogs have a sweet tooth, but candy can be deadly, so make sure those Halloween candy bars and holiday boxes of chocolate are put out of Scruffy's reach.  Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. 
    Different types of chocolate can have varying amounts of theobromine, so if Macho eats a bag of M & Ms or a chocolate cupcake, he may not be affected, but a dish of dark chocolate candies may do him in.
    To safeguard pets from theobromine poisoning resist the urge to share any candy -- chocolate or otherwise -- with your pet. Give your dog or cat a healthy treat instead of candy.

  • Keep a bowl of dog biscuits handy for the Trick-or-Treaters who bring their dogs to your house.

  • When sorting your candy, make sure to pick up all candy and wrappers.  Tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed.

  • Be careful of pets around a lit pumpkin: Pets may knock it over and cause a fire. Curious puppies especially run the risk of getting burned.

While this can be a fun time for people and pets alike, remember that your pets are depending on you to keep them safe from the more dangerous goblins and ghouls that this holiday brings.  Each Halloween, veterinarians around the country see scores of pet injuries that could have been easily avoided. Pet owners should keep in mind that pets are creatures of habit and can become very stressed when their environments suddenly change. They are really much better off if they are protected from all the 'traditions' of Halloween.




This page has been visited times since August 4, 1997
This page was last updated March 30, 2002
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