Monstering Halloween…or Mastering Howl-a-ween

Halloween is a holiday for thrills and chills. But it’s important we don’t forget that the best way to enjoy a holiday is by making sure we enjoy it safely.

It’s fun to include the family pet in family activities, so it’s natural to think that we should include our dogs in the festivities. I once saw a family dressed as the dogs from Paw Patrol with their dog dressed as Ryder. It was very creative.

But the best holidays are safe holidays. Especially for dogs.

Leave trick-or-treating to the ghouls.

So many people want to take their dogs trick-or-treating. I get it, it’s cute. Little Dorothy with Toto, doggy shark, or a four-legged superhero sidekick.

But everybody else looks weird. They look like ghosts or witches or kangaroos. This can be confusing or frightening for a dog.

So keep Sergeant Pupper at home.

Preferably put away in back or nestled safely in their crate.

Because those monsters and scary marsupials will be coming to the door. Visitors will be coming to the house on a regular basis, including children dressed in unusual costumes with masks. The ringing doorbell or knocking, and the door’s constant opening and closing may upset Boneasaurus Rex.

Your dog can get really freaked out by all those visitors.

I like to put my dogs in the back room with a nice (skeleton) bone. They stay calm and happy and you get to greet your neighborhood parade of witches and wizards and enjoy the night.

They’ll also be in a better emotional state to keep you safe as you watch Zombie Vampires from Mars Part 3.

A few more tips to keep Halloween happy and less freaky…

Stash the Treats

The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters (and – lets’ be honest – owners).

Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be dangerous for dogs.

Sugar-free candy containing the sugar substitute xylitol can also cause serious problems for pets.

Wrappers, strings, and sticks that come with, on, or around the candy may cause a blockage that can require medical attention.

And avoid leaving bowls of candy on low lying spots like coffee tables, chairs, or bottom stairs.

Watch the Decorations

Keep decorative pumpkins and colorful corn out of your dog’s reach. Although they are nontoxic, these vegetables can induce gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large quantities.

Intestinal blockage can even occur if they swallow large enough pieces.

While a carved jack-o-lantern is almost mandatory this time of year, dogs can easily knock over a lighted pumpkin and start a fire or singe a wagging tail. Ouch!

Place with care.

Any decorations with electrical cables, hanging ghosts, and fake cobwebs should be placed high enough that your dog can’t reach them. It’s way too easy for Sputnik Spot to get caught up rocketing around the yard.

Costume with Care

For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

Yes, even that taco suit.

Don’t put your dog in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If your dog does not usually comfortably wear a jacket or coat, don’t let his first experience be a full-body gargoyle puppy outfit.

If you do dress up your dog for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit her movement, sight, or ability to breathe or bark. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard.

Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on obstacles or your pet, leading to injury. Even your Pug dressed as Yoda can run into trouble.

Now is a great time for a dress rehearsal. Let your dog try on and get used to the costume before the big night. If he seems distressed or shows any sign of not liking the costume, consider letting your pet wear his natural descendent suit.

Wolves are very Halloween-y.

Don’t Let Your Dog Be Houdini

An escape artist is a real show stopper. In a bad way.

Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers coming and going. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog doesn’t dart outside.

A cracked door while you hand out another Butterfinger can look like the perfect escape route to an unsettled pup.

Always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification. If he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can help make a scary situation turn into a horror story.

For many families, Halloween is the unofficial start of the holiday season. Let’s start it off as happily and safely as we can.


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