Halloween is Howling Good Fun, but can be Dangerous to Dogs

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These five valuable tips will help to keep you, your dogs, and trick-or-treaters safe.

Costumes, candy corn, and spooky decorations make Halloween a fun time of year for kids and adults alike, but the holiday can also be fraught with potential hazards for dogs. Nicole Wilde, author of “Help for Your Fearful Dog,” offers tips for keeping everyone safe:

1. Candy is dandy, but not for canines. Chocolate, especially the bittersweet variety, can be toxic. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gum, mints and some hard candies, is poisonous. Raisins and grapes, although healthy for humans, are another no-no. Even candy wrappers may cause choking or blockages. Keep trick-or-treat handouts far out of your dog’s reach, and make sure any goodies your kids bring home are put safely away.

2. Spooky decorations make for a chilling ambiance, but your dog may try to chew or ingest them. Keep decorations out of reach, and pay careful attention to electrical cords, as they can lead to a truly scary shock if chewed. Keep candles out of the way so they don’t get knocked over and start a fire.

3. Some dogs are afraid of unfamiliar people, and will bark and lunge at them. Small humans in strange masks or costumes might get more of a scare than they bargained for! If your dog is reactive toward strangers, place him in another room with a stuffed chew toy for the evening. Leave some classical music playing to calm him and screen out anxiety-provoking sounds.

4. If you want to dress your dog in a costume, make sure it’s fun for him, too. If Buddy is the type who hates to play dress-up, adorn him with a festive Halloween-themed bandana instead. Be aware that pets can become tangled in costumes and have difficulty moving, which might result in injury. Never leave a costumed dog unattended.

5. Keep your dog indoors. Unfortunately, kids are known to play pranks involving animals. There have also been reports of thefts and worse. Firecrackers and other strange sounds may frighten your dog, and scared dogs may run away. Check your dog’s ID tags just in case.

With a bit of forethought, Halloween can still be a fun-filled holiday for the whole family.

Nicole Wilde is an internationally recognized author who lectures on canine behavior topics. Her books can be found at Phantom Publishing (http://www.phantompub.com).

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