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Tips for Halloween pet safety during trick or treating

While some dogs enjoy the excitement of Halloween, others may feel threatened by all the shenanigans going on. In light of the fact that each dog is unique, please consider your pet's anxieties as you celebrate Halloween this year.

Dogs have an instinctive drive to observe over their home and bark at strangers. Dogs can become extremely anxious when trick-or-treaters repeatedly ring the doorbell or knock on the door.

Read on for some suggestions on how to make Halloween fun for your pet this year.

1. Halloween preparations can be stressful for pets.

Pets should be placed in a quiet room before trick-or-treaters arrive to keep them from being startled. If your dog is prone to trying to bolt out the front door but is crate-trained, you might try putting them in there with a toy full of treats and some soothing music in a back room away from the front.

Sit outside so that trick-or-treaters will not bother you with their constant knocking and ringing of the doorbell.

Pets should be kept in a separate room, away from the Halloween festivities, even if you are only hosting a small gathering of friends. Putting on a mask or costume alters a person's appearance and scent, making even familiar people seem frightening to your pup. Put up a sign saying "No Entry" on the door of the safe room to let visitors know they should avoid going there.

Don't take your dog with you when you go trick-or-treating. The excitement of Halloween can be too much for some dogs, and a bite or a missing dog can quickly ruin the night.

2. Keep your dog away from the Halloween candy.

Your dog isn't supposed to eat Halloween candy, so be watchful your pup doesn’t get into any.

Dogs should not eat candy, and certain candies can be fatal if ingested. In many Halloween treats, xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is used. This is dangerous for dogs. A drop in blood sugar levels caused by xylitol can lead to dizziness, tremors, and even seizures. Common candies that are harmful to pets include: chocolate, lollipops, candy corn, caramel apples, hard candies, etc.

All the extra stuff you get with candy, like wrappers, strings, and sticks, might cause a blockage in the throat and require immediate medical attention.

Dogs can also get pancreatitis from eating fatty chocolate and candies.

Raisins and many types of nuts are extremely toxic to dogs and can even be fatal if eaten.

Dogs should not consume any kind of chocolate, but most especially baking or dark chocolate, as they can be extremely poisonous to dogs. Chocolate poisoning can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, tachycardia, and seizures.

Theobromine is the dangerous ingredient in chocolate. Theobromine is quickly metabolized by humans, but its metabolism is much slower in dogs, leading to potentially lethal accumulations. A large dog can eat more chocolate before experiencing negative side effects than a small dog can. Small amounts of chocolate are unlikely to cause anything more serious than an upset stomach and possibly some vomiting or diarrhea in your dog. Extremely high levels of theobromine are toxic and can lead to tremors, convulsions, heart arrhythmias, internal bleeding, and even death. When theobromine poisoning first sets in, it's often accompanied by extreme agitation and restlessness.

3. Keep your dog inside on Halloween

On Halloween night, cruel pranksters have been known to harass, hurt, steal, and even kill animals. It's best to keep your pets inside the house, where they'll be safe. Don't let your dog out of the house unattended. Children in strange costumes and masks will be among the visitors to the house on a near-constant basis. Pets may become stressed by the constant opening and shutting of doors, as well as the ringing of doorbells or knocking. It's understandable that a dog would become anxious and confused when exposed to constant noise and guests. They may also feel a need to defend themselves, and as a result, they may exhibit behaviors like aggression and attempting to escape through the open door. Keep your dog inside during the holidays if they tend to get anxious, and make sure they're not near the door.

4. Dogs should be kept away from Halloween decorations such as pumpkins and light cords.

These vegetables aren't toxic but eating too much of them at once can make your pet sick. Big chunks of pumpkin or a corncob swallowed whole can cause intestinal blockage as well.

Pumpkin lamps and extension cords should be monitored around pups. Your pet could get burned if it gets too close to the pumpkin, or worse, they could knock it over and start a fire. Your dog's life may be in danger if he or she chews on the cords and gets cut on the sharp metal or plastic ends, or even gets an electric shock. A lot of dogs won’t struggle with these fun holiday decorations, but for those who do it can be a hazardous situation if not properly managed.

5. Be careful when choosing costumes for your pets, and always give them a test run well in advance of Halloween.

Some pets experience anxiety when dressed up. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and PetMD both advise against dressing your dog up in a costume unless you can distinguish that they are at ease. Your dog's ability to see, breathe, and bark should not be compromised by the costume. Make sure there are no choking hazards. The costume should not have any small, dangling pieces that your dog could get caught on things. You should give your dog some time to warm up to the costume and become familiar with it before Halloween. If they act as if they don't want to wear the costume, don't force them to. This will help you maintain a good relationship with your pup. Listening to your dog when they are uncomfortable enforces the trust you guys share. A great alternative are decorative collars or bandanas! They can be fun and festive for your pup without a whole costume.

6. Make sure your dog is relaxed and easy to identify.

Amid all the excitement and visitors that Halloween brings, it's important to remember that your pups may find the presence of so many new people unnerving and stressful. Only the most sociable dogs should be allowed near the front door during trick-or-treating hours. Be careful that your dog doesn't bolt out the door as you open it for visitors. Make sure your pet has a collar with identification tags and/or a microchip in case he or she ever gets loose. Having proper identification for your dog will increase the likelihood of it being returned to you in the event that they escapes and become lost. Even if you've already microchipped your pet, double-check that the details are accurate and up to date.

Halloween is a fun holiday for you and your children, and with some adequate preparation and attention to safety, it can be fun for your furry friends as well! Please get in touch with us at Morgans Pawsitive Pup Training if you have any inquiries or concerns about keeping your pets safe this Halloween.

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