Halloween is here, and a good time will be had by all! Well, hopefully by all – here are some steps to make sure your four-legged friends make the best of the occasion too.
Watch What They Eat
Most people know in a sort of general way not to feed candy to the dog… but there are some specific treat-related risks to watch out for:
This food of the gods is NOT a friend to canines. There is a natural component of chocolate, called theobromine, that can cause heart palpitations and even seizures in dogs. And don’t think the chocolate is safer because it is the good stuff – the higher quality the chocolate, the more of this ingredient it has.
Even without this problematic component, the sugar and fat in chocolate can cause significant diarrhea – clean-up is never a fun way to spend the day after Halloween.
This is an artificial sweetener found in sugarless gum and mints. In dogs, their body mistakes it for sugar and releases insulin. With no real sugar in the blood for the insulin to work on, the insulin causes the blood sugar levels to plummet. The result is a drunken hypoglycemic state, followed by seizures and coma and possibly death. The amount to cause this in a 5 kg dog is a stick and a half of gum.
At higher doses, the xylitol can cause liver failure about 8-12 hours after ingestion – even if they did not go through the hypoglycemic stage first. The dose to destroy the liver in a 5 kg dog would be about a full package of gum.
Something eaten does not have to be toxic to cause problems! Dogs can and will eat bulky items that can irritate and even block up their digestive systems. Particularly good intestinal “corks” include decorative corn cobs, and big chunks of pumpkin rind.
I had the unenviable pleasure last year of cleaning up after my Lab ate my kids’ discarded candy wrappers out of the garbage – ah, the joy of 3 days of techni-colour puke and poop…
Watch for Spooks
By this, I mean watch out for those spooked reactions your pet can give. Many pets are distressed by the doorbell ringing over and over again, and lots of funny-looking invaders coming to the door. Consider confining your pet somewhere peaceful, both to keep him calm and to preclude a panicked bolt out the door (the door that you keep insisting on opening for the aforementioned invaders).
Walk in Peace
Consider taking your dog for a walk either before or after the invasion of zombies and space-princesses. A street full of costumed kids can unnerve your dog, leading to stress, unpopular barking, and even a frantic pull that slips the leash.
Let cats have a Night In
There are some truly creepy people out there. And many will victimize cats, especially black cats, in the name of pranks and disturbing rituals. Keep kitties at home that night!
If you are really keen on dressing your pet in a costume, keep in mind the wear-ability of the outfit. Bulky costumes that slip and shift on the body are disconcerting.
Elastics can pinch and bind, and on extremities can even cut off blood flow to the paws or tail. Consider velcro instead of elastic.
If your pet is freaked out by this weird “attacker” he can not shift off his back, then don’t make him wear it!
And if he is nervous around other pets and people, don’t force him to take part in a contest, parade or party – especially one crowded with ghoulishly dressed dogs and people!