While Halloween is an exciting time for us humans, it can be a downright scary and stressful time for dogs. Constant noise and activity, strange people in strange costumes, doorbells ringing, doors opening and closing – all of this can be highly upsetting to many dogs. Here are some guidelines from DogWatch to help you keep your dog safe and sane on the scariest night of the year.

Halloween candy1. No Halloween Candy for Fido

While we love our sweet treats, most Halloween candy is dangerous to dogs. Chocolate is a well-known hazard, but did you know that xylitol, a sweetener found in some candy, is also toxic to dogs? Your best bet is to keep ALL candy safely out of reach of your dog.

When the kids return with their candy haul, make sure that they carefully store it in a place where the dog can’t get at it. Consider having some special treats reserved for your dog, in case the kids want your pup to feel included in the night’s festivities. Also, familiarize yourself with the signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs, so you will know if you need to call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. These signs include: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.

Jack-O-Lantern2. Watch Out for Candy Wrappers and Decorations

Candy wrappers are often made of foil or cellophane, and thus they are shiny and appealing to dogs, who don’t realize that they shouldn’t be eaten. The same goes for Halloween decorations such as glow sticks, plastic spiders, decorative gourds, shiny streamers, fake spiderwebs and anything else dogs can grab and chew.

Ingestion of candy wrappers and other foreign objects can lead to intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening and often requires surgical intervention. Signs of an intestinal blockage can include vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. To avoid an emergency trip to the vet, throw away all candy wrappers in a covered trash can and keep decorations out of the dog’s reach. And remember, keep your dog away from any jack-o-lanterns – you definitely don’t want him to trip or knock over any lit candles. That’s a Halloween fright no one needs!

3. Ding, Dong, Dash!

The constant opening and closing of the front door all night may provide scared and adventurous dogs alike the opportunity for a quick escape. Not only that, it can cause excess excitement or fear, which could result unusual and unexpected aggression in some dogs. The best solution to avoiding an escape or fearful outburst is to keep your dog indoors in a confined area, such as a crate, a bedroom with a closed door, or an area defined by DogWatch Indoor Hidden Pet Boundaries.

If you wish to bring your dog along during your trick-or-treating adventure, keep her on leash at all times. When approaching each new door, keep the dog a safe distance away to avoid scaring or aggravating any resident dogs. If and only if the resident dog is leashed and the owner gives permission, then you can bring her to the door to say hello.

Sleepy yellow lab4. A Tired Dog Is a Happy Dog

If you know your dog tends to be excitable around lots of activity, consider taking him out for a long walk or game of fetch in the backyard before the trick-or-treaters arrive. Take your Halloween photos in the afternoon as well. Not only will the light be better, but also it’ll allow your dog to participate in family fun without making him take part in the more stressful parts of Halloween night. After tiring him out with a fun afternoon of play, he can relax in his crate and avoid the evening hubbub at the front door.

Shiloh the Cockapoo in his Superman costume5. Be Careful with Costumes

Dressing up dogs is fun (and funny) – that’s why we created a contest all about it! But if you do decide to dress your dog for Halloween, make sure the costume is safe for the dog. It should not have small pieces that the dog could chew off and ingest, and should not restrict the animal’s vision, hearing, or ability to breathe properly. Make sure elastic bands for headpieces are not too tight, and that hats don’t fall in your dog’s eyes. If your dog is not the costume type, opt for a festive bandanna or collar instead.

DogWatch wishes a happy and safe Halloween to you, your family, and your dogs!

Helpful links and phone numbers
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661
Charges may apply

For more safety tips, check out these articles from ASPCA and the Pet Poison Helpline.


Candy photo: Theresa A. Grenier (photo is cropped)

Jack-O-Lantern photo: C.W. Russell via Flickr (photo is cropped)

Dog looking out door photo: Angelia Sims via Flickr (photo is cropped)