How To Stay Safe On Halloween

By Kathy Santo | Updated: March 7 2019

Halloween can be a fun time for children and their families. But for pets, it can be a nightmare! Here are 9 tips to make sure your dog’s Halloween isn’t frightening:

1. Candy is NOT for pets.

All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be dangerous, and even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don't leave your dog out in the yard on Halloween.

Visualize this: Children in scary/strange costumes. Walking, running, and yelling near your house. While your dog is loose in your yard. Enough said.

3. Keep your dog confined and away from the door.

Not only will your doorbell be ringing, but your door will also be constantly opening and closing. Add to that the number of strangers dressed in unusual outfits and you can understand why it’s a place your dog should be far away from. To avoid potential fearful/aggressive reactions, put your dog in a secure room away from the front door. This will also prevent him from darting outside into the night!

4. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities.

5. Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire.

6. Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach.

If chewed, your dog could receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

7. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know they'll love it.

If you do decide that your dog needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, their sight, or the ability to breathe or bark.  And have a few ‘dress rehearsals” a week (or more) before the big event. If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their “birthday suit”. Festive bandanas are a great alternative, too!

8. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date and that even if your dog is microchipped, he should still have a visible ID collar/tag!

9. The day AFTER Halloween is dangerous, too!

When you take your dog out for a walk, be on the lookout for candy on the ground. Sometimes it’s hard to see with all the leaves on the ground, so be extra alert in the coming days.

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.


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