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Five Safe Ways to Celebrate the Halloween Season with Your Dog

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With the arrival of cool breezes, falling leaves, pumpkins, and glorious fall foliage, thoughts turn to Halloween celebrations. For many, no holiday revelry is complete without the inclusion of their beloved canine companions, but many of the human customs can be hazardous to dogs. Keep your dog happy and safe this Halloween by following these five tips when planning your dog's fall festivities.

1. Costume Caveats

As the pet-supply retailers display vast inventories of wickedly adorable Halloween costumes, it's easy to get caught up in the marveling as you picture how your pooch will look in them when he struts along the local canine-costume parade route. As long as your dog is normally a patient and obliging model for canine clothing, it is acceptable to add a costume to their wardrobe. When selecting the perfect costume to complement or contrast their personality, be sure to also consider the following safety guidelines.

  • The costume should fit your dog comfortably and allow him to walk, sit, lie down, and otherwise move normally.
  • Avoid any costume that covers your dog's face or ears. Your dog's vision and hearing should not be restricted in any way, and he should be able to breathe and pant easily.
  • Choose a costume that is made of lightweight and breathable material so that your furry friend doesn't get overheated.

Never leave your dog unsupervised while they are wearing a costume. If they becomes uncomfortable, and you are not there to help him strip, the costume could become a choking hazard as they struggle to remove the costume without you. 

2. Fall Portrait

Decorating porches and decks for fall has become almost as popular as decking the halls for the winter holiday season. If you have created a fall focal point of pumpkins, cornstalks, and colorful mums, then you have a perfect backdrop for a beautiful autumn portrait of your dog. You can fasten an orange, yellow, maroon, or purple bow to his collar or outfit him with a neckerchief that is crafted from a fabric that displays a fall or Halloween-themed pattern. This fall portrait photo shoot is a nice alternative for dogs that are not up to wearing a costume or partying with other dogs at public events.

3. Toy Shopping

In addition to the Halloween costumes, pet supply retailers also stock up on toys for the occasion. Take your dog along the next time you shop for her food or other care supplies, and let her browse the toy aisle. From plush ghosts and bats and jack-o-lanterns that squeak in the night to skeleton-shaped rope tug toys and balls in every Halloween hue, picking up two or three new toys will add seasonal flare to her playroom and keep her playtime new and exciting. Always choose toys that are appropriately sized for your dog. Toys that are too small can easily become lodged in a playing dog's throat, resulting in a life-threatening airway obstruction.

4. Festive Treats

Keep all human Halloween treats out of your pet's reach. If your dog manages to access a hidden stash, contact your veterinarian immediately. Many of the ingredients that are found in your children's trick-or-treat bags, such as chocolate, raisins, and nuts, are toxic to dogs. Instead of sharing these treats, stock up on some fall- and Halloween-themed dog biscuits. You can find such treats at the cookie bar in some pet-supply retail stores, or you can opt for an afternoon of culinary fun by baking homemade dog treats. Use cookie cutters that are appropriately shaped for the season, and use a recipe that is specifically for dogs. For a truly seasonal touch, you can get your dog cookies that contain canned pumpkin. As an added bonus, pumpkin offers a few health benefits to your dog's diet.

5. Hikes

Before you make plans to take your dog along on a trick-or-treat escapade, consider the fact that many dogs become anxious and spooked when they are walked after dark on a night when noisy ghouls, ghosts, and goblins roam the streets. Some dogs become so stressed that they take off running into the night, only to become lost or struck by a car. Instead, buy your dog a new orange leash and take them on a weekend hiking adventure. As the temperatures cool down and the trees sport colorful foliage, this is a perfect time to hit the wooded trails. Be sure to practice the following tips when taking your dog hiking:

  • Carry a bowl and drinking water for your dog in your backpack.
  • Protect them against fleas and ticks by keeping them current on preventative products.
  • Do not allow them to drink water from rivers, ponds, or streams.
  • Check their paws periodically for cuts or lodged burrs and acorns.

You will both get some exercise in the crisp fall air, and they will revel in the sights, scents, and sounds of nature much more than in the screams of trick-or-treat seekers and the frightening noises of Halloween sound recordings.

When the big day of Halloween arrives and costumed kids are due to start knocking on your door, prevent escapes by corralling your pets in a securely closed room in your home with a couple of new toys and some of those cookies you baked for them for the duration of the trick-or-treat hours. If your dog seems anxious with this isolation, ask a family member or friend to hang out with your dog in the safe room to reassure them and keep them company. As long as you keep your dog's safety and happiness in mind when planning fall and Halloween activities, your faithful companion can enjoy celebrating with you and your family instead of spending the holiday in the animal hospital.

However, if there is an accident, don't hesitate to bring your pet in to a location such as Parkview Animal Hospital.