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Happy Howl-0-Ween!

Tips to keep your canine safe from holiday hazards


halloween pumpkin witch dog


Although trick-or-treat night is a time to protect your pet from strangers and stressful situations, you and your dog can still enjoy Halloween.

If your dog is sociable and likes kids, gets along well with other dogs, and is comfortable wearing a costume, then check out local pet parades and costume contests. Such events are part of many Oktoberfests, Pumpkin Festivals, and special community activities sponsored by pet-related retail establishments.

Choose Your Pet’s Costume With Care
The most reasonably priced and easiest-to-wear pet costumes feature a hat or headpiece plus a cape, or some type of collar or ruffle. Styles include the always-popular witches and devils, plus clowns, daisies, and chefs, among others. And, if your dog doesn’t like dressing up and becomes nervous and upset, then simply find a cute Halloween-themed bandana or collar.

Here are some safety guidelines to follow, whether you purchase a costume or make it yourself:

  • Ensure that your dog can breathe, see, and hear. Do not put a mask on your pet.
  • Check the fit around your dog’s neck to make sure that the costume is not too tight. Look for signs of discomfort, such as chewing or pawing.
  • Choose a fabric that won’t cause your dog to become overheated. (It’s likely that your pet is already covered in fur!)
  • Don’t incorporate any small objects that can be chewed and swallowed or that could be a choking hazard (e.g., beads; loose, dangling accessories).

Provide a Safe Haven Indoors for Your Dog
A constantly ringing doorbell, combined with a stream of costumed trick or treaters, may frighten even a calm dog. And, a loud barking dog—friendly or not—will scare young children. Confining your dog is the best way to avert stressful situations for your pet, as well as any trick or treaters.

Leaving your dog outside on Halloween—even in a fenced yard—is not an option. Costumed strangers who walk by might frighten your pet, and some children might want to share their treats, just to be friendly. Others might tease your dog. Unfortunately, every Halloween, pets are stolen or suffer the consequences of malicious pranks (e.g., they’re injured, tormented, or tortured).

No matter how much you enjoy including your dog in family activities, on Halloween night, the most loving thing that you can do is ensure your pet’s safety.

Managing Editor’s Note: This article draws on information provided by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.