Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe on Halloween

10. Carve your pumpkins in an area away from your dogs. Knives, power tools, or whatever else you are using are best kept away from curious animals, and you’ll likely have a big enough task watching your kids to keep them safe. You don’t need the added burden of keeping your dog from getting hurt or devouring the seeds before you can roast them. And don’t even get me started about the pumpkin innards you might want to save to make your Thanksgiving pies.

Halloween dog
Carve your pumpkins in an area away from your dogs. Knives and other sharp tools don't mix well with dogs.

9. Keep the dog out of the kitchen while you make decorations and treats. Many of the ingredients you will use to make fake brains, eyeballs, and other gross-out décor will not agree with your dog’s tummy. If you’re baking cookies or other treats, you probably don’t need your dog surfing the counter and eating all of the sugary treats, particularly if they have chocolate in them. If you want to make a seasonal treat for your dog, here’s a recipe for pumpkin dog cookies.

8. Keep your dog away from dressed-up kids. Kids in costume often can’t see well through masks or extensive make-up and big hair-dos. They are likely to trip over your dog or at the very least, scare the animal. Children with light sabers or other “weapons” may think it’s great fun to poke at your dog, and the dog isn’t likely to think that’s a barrel of laughs. The last thing you want is for your dog to nip a child or worse, ruining the holiday fun.

7. Having a Halloween party? Your dog might not have the same appreciation of the festivities as you do. Although he or she may want to make an appearance at some point during the party, it’s probably best to keep the dog put up in a different room for the bulk of the evening. You will be busy hosting the event, and won’t have time to keep your dog from counter-surfing through the food that might not agree with his or her digestive system, and you’ll probably be too busy to monitor your guests to keep them from feeding the dog a few snacks.

Dogs in a pumpkin
Make sure you put your jack-o-lanterns and any other flammable decorations up where your dog can’t reach them.

6. Keep the dog away from flammable decorations. There’s nothing that says Halloween better than a jack-o-lantern, but it wouldn’t take much more than a wagging tail to tip the pumpkin over and cause a fire. Make sure you put your jack-o-lanterns and any other flammable decorations up where your dog can’t reach them. Better yet, use battery operated lights in place of real candles.

5. If you’re going to dress your dog in a costume, you might want to have a dry run before the big day to see if the dog actually likes looking like a superhero or a hot dog in a bun or the latest movie character. Make sure the costume is not too constricting anywhere, and make sure your dog can see clearly. In fact, it’s best to skip the mask altogether in most cases.

Supervise your dog while he or she is in costume to make sure the fabric doesn’t become a snack. Many costumes contain small buttons or other things that can choke your pet. Long strings can become an intestinal nightmare and literally tie your dog in knots. If the dog is being dressed up for pictures, take the photos early in the evening, then set your dog loose in his or her birthday suit. The dog will be much happier, as well as safer.

Ghost dog
Supervise your dog while he or she is in costume to make sure the fabric doesn’t become a snack.

4. If your dog is usually outside alone, step up the supervision in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Pranksters often torment and harass animals left outside around Halloween, and animals seem to get kidnapped at a higher than usual rate on this particular holiday.

Particularly while the youngsters are out trick-or-treating, make sure your dogs are inside. They may be scared by the costumes and they will definitely bark the whole time, so your neighbors would probably appreciate the gesture as well.

If you walk with your kids around the neighborhood, it’s probably best to leave the dog at home. They may be scared by all of the strange-looking ghosts and goblins, they will step on the little girls’ princess dresses, and they are likely just to be a general nuisance.

3. If you’re staying home to pass out the candy, make sure your dog is put up where he or she can’t escape out the door while you are putting the candy into the pumpkin buckets. If you can, put him or her in a room at the back of the house where the animal may not even notice the parade of people coming to the front door.

Consider using a baby gate across the doorway if you will be opening the door each time, or take out the top window of the storm door to keep from having to open the door at all. Either will keep your dog inside while you hand out the candy.

2. Check your dog’s ID tags before the holiday arrives. Because there are numerous opportunities for escape or abduction during the Halloween season, this can be a good time of year to make an annual inspection of the tags and their attachment rings. Make sure the information is up-to-date, legible, and securely attached to your dog’s collar. If you’ve added a new dog to your family, make sure you’ve taken the time to purchase an ID tag for him or her.

If your dog has a micro-chip, when was the last time you updated the information with the registry vendor? Have you moved since then? Did you give up your landline in favor of a cell phone? Did you divorce your spouse and forget to change the contact info to your phone number? Have you added any new medical information if your dog’s health condition has changed?

1. Chocolate and dogs do not mix well. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, and it doesn’t take a large dose to cause intestinal issues. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free candy and gum is also poisonous.After you check your kids’ candy for open packages and tampering, make sure you put it up on a shelf your dog cannot reach. Teach your kids to dispose of the wrappers properly so the dog won’t gorge him/herself on them. Both foil and cellophane can get stuck inside your dog and require expensive surgery to remove. At the very least, they may make your dog regurgitate all of the wrappers on your rugs!

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