Halloween is this coming weekend.  This holiday is a favorite for kids and adults alike, and folks often love to include their dogs in the celebration as well. For a fun Halloween for both people and pets, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Here are our favorite safety tips that every pet owner should know this autumn:   

  1. Chocolate and Sweets are Not for Pets - All types of chocolate, including dark chocolate, is toxic and sometimes even deadly to dogs. Because of dogs' excellent sense of smell, be sure to keep all chocolate and candy out of reach of dogs, not just out of sight. Remember, chocolate poisoning is not something to take lightly. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures, and need immediate medical attention. Even candy that doesn't contain chocolate can be dangerous. Many candies contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, which is also toxic to dogs. Dogs can still celebrate with healthy pet treats, of course, which is always an excellent alternative to human treats.
  2. Make sure wrapper are thrown in the trash – Candy wrappers can be just as dangerous as chocolate when eaten.  Let’s face it, our pets will often eat whatever lands on the floor, especially if it smells good.  Wrappers can become stuck in the digestive tract and cause a blockage.  Symptoms of an intestinal blockage include vomiting, diarrhea, straining to defecate, refusal to eat, lethargy, and pain when touched.  If you think your pet has a blockage, see your veterinarian.
  3. Watch out for Glow Sticks - They may make us visible in the dark but you should keep glow sticks away from pets.  Even though liquid in the stick is non-toxic it has a bitter taste and can cause a reaction in your pet.  They may drool, paw at their mouth, get agitated and maybe even vomit. 
  4. Keep Pumpkins Out of Reach - Pumpkins and other typical autumn decorations such as cornstalks or hay do a great job making homes spooky for trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately, they aren't as fun for dogs. Although they aren't poisonous, they can cause stomach upset or intestinal blockage. Another reason to keep pumpkins out of reach is that candles or electric lights are often involved, and neither is something a dog owner wants their pup to play with.
  5. Be Careful with the Costumes - Some dogs love to be dressed up, but for others, it's a stressful experience. Be sure to try on any costume before the big night to make sure the dog is comfortable and happy wearing it. A good costume won't limit the dog's movement or ability to see, hear, or breathe. Owners should supervise their costumed dogs in case the outfit should break or become loose. There are also plenty of great Halloween ideas out there for dogs who don't like a full costume, so don't force it if the dog doesn't enjoy wearing one. Get creative and experiment with patterned bandanas or a collar clip-on.  You may want to try it out before the big day as well.
  6. Alcohol – What’s a Halloween Party without some adult beverages? However, alcohol is toxic to pets.  Keep all alcoholic drinks out of reach.  Many pets will readily drink an unattended glass of beer or wine.  Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include uncoordination, weakness, sleepiness and vomiting.  Lage amounts can cause changes in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure as well as low blood sugar and low body temperature.
  7. Keep your pets indoors – Unfortunately, there are those who will tease, steal, injure and perhaps even kill pets that are left outdoors on Halloween.  Keeping pets inside can prevent these awful things from occurring.  Black cats are particularly at risk.  In fact, some animal shelters will not even adopt black cats out during the month of October to keep them safe. 
  8. Give your pets a Safe Space- Even the most well-trained dog might become unpredictable when visitors in strange costumes coming to the door every few minutes. Dogs might get overexcited or nervous. Because of this, it's a good idea to keep an eye on them throughout the night and make sure they have a safe spot in the house to retreat to if they want to. It might also be a good idea to keep overly excitable dogs on a leash for the night, which will prevent them from jumping up on trick-or-treaters or even trying to run out the door. 

Halloween is a fantastic time for making memories with friends, both human and animal. Whether it's a dog's first Halloween or they're a seasoned veteran, the best treat anyone can give their dog is a safe and fun holiday.