Goblins are Lurking: Safety Tips for Dogs
Are you looking forward to a fun Halloween with your pooch? Here are some helpful treat and safety tips for this ghoulish time of year!
Safety Tips: Treats and Foods
Did you know many of the foods and treats we enjoy on Halloween are toxic to dogs? Some of them can also be deadly! We all know how dogs love to eat just about anything – including the wrapper in which the treat is stored. The treats below are especially dangerous to your pets, so please keep them out of reach and if you have children, please share this important information with them, too!
Chocolate – Chocolate consumption in dogs is a top ingestion problem at Halloween. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be harmful and sometimes fatal to your dog. Baking chocolate is exceptionally high in this chemical. The general rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more danger it poses. Contact your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency centre if your pet consumes chocolate. Quick treatment can minimize the danger to your dog. If your dog also ate candy wrappers or bags, it may present the additional problem of intestinal blockage. So, be sure to let your veterinarian know what was consumed.
Candies and Gum – The biggest concern with candy is the risk of the ingredient xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is toxic to pets. This ingredient is often used in sugar-free items but has been showing up in more and more foods daily, even when they are NOT labelled as sugar-free. Xylitol is usually found in sugar-free gum, sugar-free candy, and sugar-free baked goods. It is sometimes found in toothpaste and peanut butter as well.
Hard Candies – Hard candy can also present a problem for dogs. Large quantities of hard candies and gum can clump up in the stomach and cause a risk of obstruction.
Raisins – Some Halloween treat-givers often choose to pass out small boxes of raisins. This option is healthy and fun for children, but raisins and grapes are dangerous to dogs and can cause renal failure. Be sure to always keep raisins out of your dog’s reach. If your dog consumes raisins, immediately call your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency center. Prompt action can help reduce the risk to your pet.
Candy Wrappers – Toxicity with candy is not the only concern; the wrappers can also be an issue, as they can become lodged in your pet’s throat or intestinal tract, requiring surgery to remove them. Wrappers that are foil or cellophane can result in gastrointestinal irritation.
Safety Tips: Halloween Costumes, Decor and Outdoors
Costumes - To Dress or Not To Dress?
The trend of dressing dogs in costume has increased over the years. It is easy to find costumes explicitly created for pets. However, that does not necessarily ensure their safety, as beads, snaps, buttons, ribbons, elastic, and fabric can all be intestinal hazards. Avoid costumes for pets with dangling parts or bits that can be chewed off. Additionally, costumes can result in overheating, impaired vision, and even difficulty breathing if it covers the face or is too restrictive around the neck or chest. Never leave your dog unattended while they are wearing clothing or other decorative items.
Also, you may want to consider some of this information on safety and comfort in this blog.
Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry
Glow sticks are a fun Halloween trend and can help keep humans safer at night, but these items look like yummy toys for dogs. Glow-in-the-dark items are filled with a liquid that, when punctured, leaks the glowing content, which can be harmful if ingested, and causes mouth pain, irritation, and excessive salivation.
Candles, Flashlights and Battery-Operated Décor
Halloween is a holiday primarily celebrated at night, so more candles and battery-operated decorations will be around. Approach candles with caution. Wagging tails and sniffing noses can land on flames that may result in injury and burns. Keep all battery-operated toys and decor out of reach from curious pets, as they can be chewed or ingested, resulting in a visit to the emergency veterinarian clinic.
Keeping Things Calm
Even the best-behaved dogs can become jumpy and overwhelmed with too much stimulus. Know your dog and watch their body language to decide if they are best tucked away in their crate or a quiet room instead of joining the family for an evening of trick or treating, greeting the costumed neighbours or participating in a Halloween party. To prevent your dog from running out, ensure they are in a safe space as you open the door for trick-or-treaters.
Safety First - Early Evening Walkies
It is best to walk your dog while it is still light out so you can see if they find candy, wrappers, broken eggs, etc., on neighbourhood lawns and streets. Make sure that these tempting treats stay out of reach. Don’t leave your dog unattended outside on Halloween, even if he is behind a fence. Besides noisy and frightening fireworks, pranksters may target a dog left in a yard, and all the activity and commotion will unnecessarily increase your dog’s stress levels. Also, well-meaning neighbours may give unwanted treats to your dog to calm them down.
Also, as you may know, if you have a black cat - consider their safety during Halloween week. Some organizations warn: if they are outdoor cats, keep them in. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Boo-m! Boo-m! Illegal Fireworks and Fido
Here in Vancouver, Canada, up until 2 years ago, it was legal to purchase and use consumer fireworks. When I first moved to Vancouver, I was very surprised by this, since it was illegal in all of the cities I had previously lived in. My first border collie, Shanti, would become extremely anxious and shake for hours. Poor girl. We had to make special plans to keep her in a quiet room during the ghostly, noisy nights. Most dogs are either very startled or react as Shanti did. Also, it's possible a dog will bolt from the noise if they are off-leash.
From all of the Crew at Virchew - We wish you and your dog a happy, healthy and safe Halloween!