Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Safety For Your Dog

Halloween Safety For Your Dog by Rick Touhey

Our dogs have become such a large part of our families that we often want to include them in all of our activities. When including our dogs in our daily lives we need to make sure that they are safe during every event. Halloween is no exception! At this time of year veterinarians see a large number of pets for illnesses and injuries that can be easily prevented by taking a few simple precautions.

Labrador Retrievers - Halloween

First of all, there are a number of hidden dangers for our dogs around Halloween with chocolate and candy being the most dangerous threats to them. Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate are extremely toxic to dogs because chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found naturally in the cacao bean. Typically, the darker the chocolate, the more concentrated the theobromine. When ingested by dogs, it can cause central nervous system distress and can even be fatal. While most of us know about the dangers of chocolate to dogs, not as many are aware of the dangers of candy. Most candies contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol and even when consumed in small amounts it can cause an unexpected drop in blood sugar, seizures, and a lack of coordination.

What about the wrappers? Let's face it, our dogs do not really care that the chocolate or candy is wrapped. As far as they know it is just part of the treat, however, wrappers of all kinds can cause intestinal blockages. While this sounds dark and gloomy, these dangers can be easily avoided by keeping your candy dish well out of your dog's reach.

In addition to Halloween treats, decorations can be another hazard for our pets. They come in many shapes and sizes and for whatever the reason, dogs like to chew on things they should not. Thus, both indoor decorations and outdoor decorations, such as window clings and those made of Styrofoam, can be potentially dangerous to dogs. Halloween lights can be unsafe for our dogs as well. Chewing on them while they are plugged in can be particularly hazardous for dogs, especially puppies, as they like to chew on the wires and smaller lights. Although your dog may find such decorations a real treat to chew on, choking and intestinal blockages are immediate concerns. It is important that you try to keep these things in mind as you decorate for the holiday and make sure to keep an eye on your dog at all times while decorations are on display.

Besides decorating our houses, many of us like to dress up our dogs for Halloween. As you know, this can be fun and cute to us, but it can be very stressful to our dogs especially if they are not used to it. If you really want to dress up your dog check with your trainer to find out how you can make it stress free. You will also want to make sure that your choice of costume is safe. Often times, dog clothing and costumes have little objects that dangle from them. While it is likely that your dog may find that these small dangling items can become toys, they also represent a possible choking hazard.

We must also be considerate of our own costumes around Halloween time as dogs are not used to the way we humans change our "fur" all the time. Just the sight of a familiar person wearing a jacket may cause stress to some dogs. Imagine how they might feel when they see all the little ghosts and goblins running around. This can be extremely stressful to our dogs. If you find that your dog is uncomfortable or growling as trick or treaters approach find a "safe haven" for them and provide them with something safe to chew on.

In conclusion, we can keep our dogs safe and prevent unnecessary trips to the vet by following a few simple guidelines. There are a number of things below to consider as Halloween approaches:

1. Make sure candy is out of your dog's reach at all times.

2. Inform all adults and children in the house that they should not give candy to your dog.

3. Watch your dog around decorations.

4. Consult your dog trainer on ways to desensitize your dog to wearing costumes.

5. Check for small objects on costumes that your dog may chew on.

6. Establish a place that your dog finds safe and give him or her a safe chew toy that will keep him or her busy until all the little ghosts and goblins have gone home.

If we all work together and practice a few safety rules our dogs and other pets can enjoy Halloween just as much as we do.

For more information on Halloween costumes and other dog products visit

Rick Touhey is a graduate of Animal Behavior College. My certification, education and experience provide me the skills required to effectively and humanely train your dog while keeping alive that special bond that makes your dog so special to you. Feel free to contact me via for more advice on fitting dog collars.

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Article Source: Halloween Labrador Print. [Online image] Available, October 16, 2011.


Anonymous,  October 20, 2011 9:17 PM  

Great post! You touched on good points and I finally understand why pups can't eat chocolate! Thanks!

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