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Halloween is one of the most celebrated family holidays in the United States, so it’s important to make sure everyone gets a chance to be in on the fun. From joining the family out trick-or-treating to dressing up in costume, dogs also enjoy the social fun of Halloween.
However, since they don’t understand the holiday the way we do, it can also be a little confusing— and sometimes even stressful for them. For those of us who think of our four-legged friends as members of the family, we want to do everything we can to help them have a great and safe experience. Thinking of taking Fido out on All Hallow’s Eve? Here are a few ways to keep them calm and comfortable, and include them in the fun and games.
Keep the Costume Simple
It’s only natural to want to involve your dog in the most exciting Halloween tradition: dressing up in a costume. That begs the question, “What should I dress my dog up as and will he enjoy wearing it?” Truth be told, our dogs do a lot of things they aren’t super into, mostly because they can tell we are (take hugs, for example). Only you know your dog’s temperament to know what kind of clothing he would be comfortable in. If you’re the kind of dog owner who has sweaters for Fido in the winter and jerseys on game day, your dog will likely be okay with a more elaborate costume. If you rarely dress your dog in clothes or outfits, a Halloween costume might make them feel nervous or anxious.
Prep for Night Walking
Most families don’t walk their dogs that often at night, so it’s important that you get both your pup and your family ready. Remember, this isn’t just walking on any old night — this is walking on a night where the streets will be filled with ghouls, ghosts, and goblins (not to mention lost candy bars on the sidewalk). Protecting your dog means giving them direction so they feel like they can trust you in the chaos. Grab a reflective dog leash, harness, or collar so your dog can be seen by pedestrians, cars, and bike riders. If you don’t want to purchase a new collar, you can add blinking lights to their current one. Limit the responsibilities of the person walking your dog so they can really focus on keeping your pup safe.
Join the Celebration
If you’re taking your dog to a Halloween party, first make sure it is okay with the hosts that you come with a canine. Even if your friend usually lets you come over with your dog, a party might be a different situation. With the streets more full during Halloween, it’s important that your dog sits in the back seat and doesn’t distract you while driving. If you’re attending a costume party, remember that your dog may feel confused or even scared. Certain breeds of dogs, and often rescues who have experienced trauma, are shy around men, strangers, and children, so be sure to work on their confidence before taking them out to a spirited party.
From restaurants to festivals, dogs are more welcome in previously people-only places than ever before. Chances are, your city, town, or community has some dog-specific Halloween events that would be fun and exciting for a social, well-mannered pup. From celebrations with dog costume contests to 5k fun runs where your dogs can dash or dawdle, doing a little research in your town and prep with your family can reduce the stress and maximize the fun.
Guest Blogger: Penny Martin – firstname.lastname@example.org
As a pet sitter, I am often amazed at how frequently loving pet parents are seemingly unaware of the hazards they allow in their best friend’s living spaces. Some are even “killing with kindness”.
The holidays seem to be the most dangerous time for pets. Many of our holiday traditions are not pet-friendly. For instance, much of our favorite Holiday food is hazardous for pets. Although Grandma’s stuffing is delicious and he really wants some, the onions can poison Fido. Chocolate is another common pet poison. Turkey bones pulled from the trash may splinter and puncture your pets digestive tract.
Cute Santa toys with google eyes, squeakers, and polyester stuffing can easily lead to severe and costly blockages that may cause a rapid decline in your pet’s health. Tinsel and ribbon look like fun but can be fatal. Poinsettias are beautiful but highly poisonous.
So, how do you enjoy the holidays, if you have to worry about all these possible hazards? I offer a few simple suggestions:
- Don’t allow your pet to have human food of any kind. Just don’t. It’s easier to remember.
- Only give them safe and hard to destruct toys. They should be hard rubber with no parts small enough to swallow.
- Separate your pets the from your decorations with doors or baby gates.
- Take note of any major changes in your pet’s behavior, appetite, bathroom habits, etc., and act on them promptly.
Being a good pet parent doesn’t have to take the “Ho-Ho-Ho” out of your holidays!
You may enjoy gaggles of kids knocking on your door in flashy costumes but it might seriously stress your furry companion.
Unless you are certain trick-or-treat is not an issue, that your pet is not alarmed by frequent doorbell rings, and that he won’t escape or, worse yet, bite the Wolfman, you probably should find a comfortable and safe spot in another room for him. Include a toy to occupy the time and soothe anxiety.
Also, remember that chocolate can be fatal for a dog. Any candy containing xylitol (an artificial sweetener) can be fatal, too. Be safe, and don’t give him any candy! Keep all candy out of Fido’s reach until it has all been eaten or removed from your home.
After the beggars stop coming, take time to soothe your pet. They may feel somewhat traumatized.
Holidays are stressful for you and your beloved pet.
Many people stress about the right thing to do with their pets over the holidays and, because it is stressful, tend to procrastinate in making arrangements for their furry friends.
You can look for a clean kennel or facility that will board your pet. That is fine for some animals but, some are seriously stressed by the noise and activity of strange animals and a big change in their environment for the holidays.
If your pet needs serious veterinary care, they might be better off in a veterinarian’s kennel during your trip. My suggestion is that your pet may be more comfortable at home than in a kennel. You likely know better than anyone what fuzzy needs or wants in order to enjoy the holidays. Who deserves more care and consideration during that time of year than your faithful dog or loving cat?
Whether you decide on a kennel, boarding facility, or a pet sitter to visit your home, you should do your best to book early. Not only are the holidays very busy and popular for all these businesses, professionals have lives, families, and pets, too. Last minute frantic phone calls are gut-wrenching and often, no matter how much they want to, they just can’t find the time or space for your best friend.
Why not just hire a teenager to visit during the holidays and save yourself some cash? Professional pet sitters are usually bonded, insured, and background-checked. A professional will not neglect your pet if they break-up, have to stay after school, have to do homework or have to go to dinner at Grandma’s for Christmas. A professional will provide the peace-of-mind you need, knowing that your pet is in good hands while you are away.
Typically, dogs require three visits per day and cats at least one visit per day. Dogs usually need to be fed and need potty breaks more often than cats. Many people tend to assume that cats are okay with just a big bowl of food and water. Not true. Litter boxes should be scooped daily and a professional will likely know if your cat requires immediate medical attention. The health status of a cat can change dramatically in a 24-hour period.
So, before you buy your plane tickets or make your hotel reservations, make sure you have made plans for your pets over the holidays. It will make the holidays more joyful for everyone.
Sources for this blog entry include: