Several weeks ago I was sitting outside on my deck with my 4 Japanese Chin, reflecting on a TV show about dogs howling as part of their wolf heritage. Well, my guys must have slept through the show. We sat there for quite a while as I practiced my howling hoping to inspire all of them or at least one of them to make an attempt at howling.
I really got quite good at it, but all the dogs did was sit there and look at me as if I were slightly insane!! I’m sure the neighbors also wondered what form of torture was going on at our house. Getting them to howl was a hopeless cause, but they have a mean bark. I was hoping to prep them to do sound effects for the big holiday … Halloween!
Halloween can be loads of fun with your pets — or a total nightmare and a dangerous experience. The main way to have a safe Halloween night with your pets is to plan ahead.
I don’t know about your neighborhood, but we only get a trickle of kids coming to the door. When we first moved here 30 years ago, we were flooded with ghosts and goblins and never sat down between groups coming to the door. Now we only get a few. But either way, you need to be careful with your pets.
There are few things cuter than a dog dressed up in a Halloween costume. BUT — be sure the costume does not restrict your dog’s movement or line of sight. Also make sure the costume does not have parts on it that your dog could ingest — he could become ill or it can be a choking hazzard.
Some dogs love to dress up, but others hate it. You know which type of dog(s) you have, so don’t force your German Shepherd into a Snow White costume if she balks. The dog knows how ridiculous she looks! Perhaps a big orange bow around the neck or attached to the collar or harness would be more appropriate.
During Halloween week, calls to the vets at the Pet Poison Helpline increase 12% percent. Most of these calls involve pets who have accidently eaten Halloween decor or candy.
The worst: Chocolate. Dogs and cats can’t metabolize it as well as people and puts them at serious risk for poisoning.
Other dangers from ingestion are raisins, sugar-free gum, candy wrappers and overindulgence.
Take precautions to keep candy out of “sneak reach” too. Put any candy up high, out of reach. If you drop a piece … be fast to pick it up!
Keep your dogs on leashes and, if possible, have another family member hold the dogs away from the door while you distribute the candy. You don’t want one or several dogs racing to the door, barking their heads off each time the doorbell rings. Even though you may only open the door a crack, dogs can push through that crack and leave a ghost trail. Who wants to spend the night hunting the neighborhood for an overly-excited dog?
I also recommend that you don’t leave pets outside alone in the yard. It’s sad to say, but Halloween can be a night where kids and adults can become mischievous pranksters. Worse, some folks are downright evil. Don’t take any chances by putting your pets in harm’s way.
Also very important for any time of the year: Do not have any open flames that your dog or cat’s tail could tip over or catch on fire — inside or outside. You also don’t want any little kids catching their costumes on fire or tripping over decorations or wires that may be outside or on your porch.
A Halloween Party Is Great Fun
Having a doggy Halloween Party is so much fun. Invite several friends with dogs to come to your home, have a costume theme, prizes, games for the dogs and theme-specific refreshments. If you enjoy Pinterest, try a quick search using these words in quotation marks: “Halloween party for dogs” and see if you don’t get a bunch of clever ideas.
And check out this collection of clever Halloween costume ideas for dogs on Distractify.com.
Make up some “trick or treat” goodie bags and give out to all dogs. We’ve done this over the years and it is always a blast. Tip: Hold the party in the afternoon, ideally several days before Halloween.
Take the Party on the Road
Dress up your pets and visit friends a few days before Halloween. Surprise them with a “trick or treat” bag for their dog. Dogs love to ride in the car and visit — so it’s a special treat for your dogs too. And it’s always fun to see how people react to your pet’s costume.
Here are two spots in Richmond VA where you can celebrate Halloween festivities with your dog:
Free admission, but also a “fun”raiser for The Friends of Hanover Dog Parks and the Hanover Humane Society
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Where: Center of the Universe Bier Garden and parking lot
Dress you and your dog up and you might catch the eye of one of the roaming judges. Pplenty of costume categories and fun activities kids too.
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Where: Stony Point Fashion Park
So this Halloween, your dogs may not be howling, but they will be healthy and safe if you follow these Halloween safety tips.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.