Today’s Guest Post is written by Paige Hawin, a lifelong pet keeper, animal shelter volunteer and German Shepherd lover. She currently works in the UK with pet transport specialists PBS.
For many of us, Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year. In 2015 Americans spent an astonishing $7.9 billion on Halloween, which works out to $93.42 per household. With 64% of us reputedly celebrating Halloween each year. It’s all too easy to get caught up in all the fun – and to forget about our beloved dogs.
When done right, Halloween can be just as exciting and enjoyable for our pets as the rest of the family. There are, however, a few things that you should take into account…
Ghosts Going Bang in the Night
Halloween is the season of trick-and-treaters. While such an activity is only intended as a little bit of fun, it can stress or upset more sensitive dogs. This makes perfect sense, as unusual voices outside your home, or flashlights approaching, encourage your dog to take decisive action.
On Halloween it makes sense to shield your dog from visitors as much as possible, so as to minimize stress. Start off with a nice long walk before the trick-and-treaters start to put their costumes on. Doing so will help to naturally tire out and relax your dog, ensuring they’re less likely to react to noise during the evening.
When the evening really commences it makes sense to shut your dog away in a back room, where external sounds will be less of an issue. At the same time, aim to spend quality time with your dog during the evening, helping to reassure them that all is fine. Remember that your own attitude can go a long way to soothing your dog’s nerves.
Also, be aware of door bells ringing throughout the evening, which can be further cause for excitement, stress or aggression. If your dog tends to react quite strongly when there is someone at the door it may make sense to keep an eye out for visitors and greet them at the front door so they don’t have to knock or ring to get your attention.
You might also consider turning on the TV at a reasonable volume to help drown out any surprise sounds outside. Treats and toys can help to district your dog.
The average American spends $27.05 on candy in readiness for Halloween. Of course, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of sweets can be harmful to dogs.
If you’re making up a tub of candy to give out the community, therefore, aim to keep it out of your dog’s reach. The container should ideally have a tight-fitting lid, though even this isn’t always enough to keep all dogs out. As an additional insurance policy it therefore makes sense to stash the candy up on a high shelf – well out of harm’s way.
Pumpkin carving may be an essential part your Halloween celebration, but pet owners need to be careful about feeding their dogs pumpkin in its natural form. Firstly, be aware that the stem of a pumpkin is covered in sharp spines. Dog owners should consider removing the stems from any decorative pumpkins to avoid potential injuries.
Also, additional care with carved pumpkins is necessary if you opt to add candles. Ideally keep your dog away from any naked flames like this, where your pooch could accidentally get burned, or knock over a pumpkin.
Raw pumpkin should never be fed to dogs, though cooked pumpkin is perfectly safe in moderate quantities. Pumpkin seeds are also generally best avoided, unless they have been gently roasted and ground in advance.
Why not celebrate Halloween by baking your best friend a delicious pumpkin treat made from the pumpkin flesh? You’ll find a number of recipes online.
In closing, Halloween can be a wonderful season for both dogs and their owners when it’s done right. By putting in a little bit of thought there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a fun evening in together, chomping on pumpkin-related treats. Just be aware that with all the potential issues surrounding Halloween this is probably not the best evening of the year to leave your dog “home alone” while you’re out partying.
[Ed. note: Thanks for all the great tips, Paige!]