siberian husky dog halloween safety

10 Halloween Safety Tips For You and Your Dog

Autumn brings a lot of wonderful and fun things. Not only is it pumpkin spice and flannel season, but the world around us transforms into a beautiful rainbow of Fall colors. And, of course, there's Halloween. But even though Halloween is super fun for humans, it can pose some risks for our canine companions. Here's a Halloween safety guide for you and your dogs: 

1. Keep candies out of reach.

A lot of goodies you may get while trick-or-treating are dangerous to dogs. For starters, chocolate is toxic and can even be lethal. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, rapid breathing or panting, and seizures. In addition, many Halloween candies have xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is also toxic to dogs. Xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of coordination, seizures and liver failure.

Pro Tip: If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call your vet immediately or a poison hotline, like ASPCA Poison Control Center

2. Stash other trick-or-treat goodies away.

Not all houses hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, but that doesn't mean what they give you is safe for your pup. For instance, some people give out raisins, which are extremely toxic to dogs as they can cause kidney failure. Signs of raisin poisoning include loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, unusual stillness, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal tenderness or pain when touched, increased thirst, changes in urine production, and dehydration (signs of which include panting, dry nose and mouth, pale gums and more). 

Two other examples of non-candy goodies that may be handed out on Halloween are pennies and macadamia nuts. Dogs will try to eat just about anything, even pennies. So make sure your dog doesn't swallow them, as they can cause anemia and kidney damage. Also keep macadamia nuts away from your dog because they are toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, temporary paralysis, hyperthermia and depression. 

Pro Tip: If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call your vet immediately or a poison hotline, like ASPCA Poison Control Center

3. Keep your pup away from the door.

If you'll be handing out candy, it's best to keep your dog away from the door. While you see trick-or-treaters as cute kids getting into the holiday spirit, your dog may see them as unusual-looking strangers encroaching on his or her home. This can scare your pup and result in unexpected aggression. But even if this isn't the case, your door will be constantly opening and closing and you don't want to risk your pooch escaping. This is why it's a good idea to secure your dog in another room or his or her crate during trick-or-treating hours.

Pro Tip: Don't leave pets out in the yard, either. Sadly, there have been several cases of pranksters teasing, injuring, stealing and even killing pets on Halloween.  

4. Update your dog's ID tags.

On a related note, it's a good idea to make sure your dog's identification tags and microchips are updated, in case your dog does escape. This is important to do this regularly, but Halloween is an especially good time because your door may be constantly opening and closing for trick-or-treaters. The most important information to update is your address and phone numbers. If your dog isn't microchipped, consider doing so, as it offers a permanent identification method if your dog's collar or tags fall off.

5. Keep Halloween plants and veggies out of reach.

Although pumpkin and corn are safe for dogs to eat (when cooked and in moderation), this doesn't mean the ones you use for Halloween are. Raw corn and pumpkin can pose as choking hazards or cause intestinal blockage if swallowed. Moreover, these plants often become moldy, which can cause a whole other set of problems for your pup. For instance, some types of mold produce "mycotoxins" that can cause neurologic issues in dogs. 

Pro Tip: Keep jack-o-lanterns out of your dog's reach as well, to avoid them trying to eat a lit candle, getting burned or causing fires.

6. Also keep Halloween decorations out of reach.

Although electric or battery-powered Halloween decorations are safer around pets than ones with candles and flames, they can still be dangerous. Some dogs love to chew anything they can get their paws on. If that's a cord, it can cause electrical shock and burns while batteries can cause chemical burns. In addition, most decorations can be a choking hazard or, if swallowed, cause intestinal obstruction or gastrointestinal damage. 

7. Don't dress your dogs in costumes unless they enjoy it.

Dressing dogs up in snazzy outfits and costumes is really trendy right now. But some dogs don't like being dressed up, and, if that's the case, it's best not to force it. Otherwise you may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Signs that your dog isn't happy in a costume include lowered head, flat or pinned-back ears, lip licking, yawning, panting, wide eyes, flat whiskers, slumping or shaking.

Pro Tip: If you still want your dog to be festive but he or she doesn't like costumes, opt for a themed bandana.

8. Be safe with costumes if your dog does enjoy them.

On the flip side, if your dog is okay or enjoys being dressed up, then go for it - as long as you're being safe. Make sure the costume fits properly and does not restrict movement, limit sight and hearing, or inhibit the ability to breathe or bark. Also check the costume for small pieces that can be chewed off and become choking hazards. It's best to stay close to your dressed-up pup, in case something goes wrong (such as overheating) so you can address it immediately. 

Pro Tip: Try on pet costumes before Halloween to familiarize your dog with their new outfit. If you can, do so several times for short periods to ease him or her in. Use lots of treats and positive reinforcement to make the experience a good one.

9. Keep glow sticks away from pets.

Glow sticks are a fun way to make Halloween a littler safer for people. But while they increase safety for us, they decrease it for our canine companions. Many dogs will look at these glow sticks as toys and try to chew them. Although the liquid inside is not toxic, it can cause injury and irritation. If your dog comes into contact with or ingests glow stick liquid, it can cause excessive drooling, mouth pain and vomiting.

Pro Tip: If your dog ingests some glow stick liquid, give fresh water and a small meal to help clear out the liquid from his or her mouth and system. And when in doubt, call your vet.

10. Avoid walking your dog during trick-or-treating hours.

It's a good idea to try to avoid taking your dog out while people are trick-or-treating. Do so by walking your dog before trick-or-treating begins and while it's still light out. This will prevent your dog from finding candy, wrappers and other Halloween items on the ground. Sometimes, though, it's unavoidable that your dog will need to go out during trick-or-treating. If this is the case, make sure you keep your dog on leash and use a sturdy harness. 

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