3 Most Important Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs

  • 20/10/2015

Ghosts, goblins, loads of chocolate, and dogs don’t always mix well. Halloween is a holiday full of not-so-hidden dangers and is probably not your furry friend’s favorite day of the year.

We talked to the owner of Pawtopia training, Colleen Demling, and holistic house-call veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney to find out how to prepare your pooch for this strange holiday and maybe even get him in on the fun.

Paws Off The Chocolate

It’s the most obvious danger of Halloween—the candy. A giant stash of chocolate may be fun for our two-legged kids, but it could literally kill our dogs.

Image via Flickr.

“Not all chocolate is going to be toxic to your dog,” Dr. Mahaney explains. “Dark chocolate has the most potential; milk chocolate is less concerning, but can still be toxic depending on the type and amount consumed.”

Keep the candy far out of your dog’s reach—even the counter isn’t safe for large dogs who can counter surf.

“Prevention is key to avoiding a scary Halloween incident,” Demling says. “If your pup tends to counter surf or steal food, the safest place for him may be in his crate with a yummy bone or interactive toy during trick-or-treat time.”

If your dog gets his paws on candy, swift action is important to prevent potentially deadly damage. Some of the perhaps less-obvious signs of chocolate poisoning include:

  • Restless behaviour
  • Increased respiratory or heart rate
  • More energy than normal
  • Need to potty more often or more than usual

Assess the situation by using this online chocolate toxicity meter, where you can input your dog’s weight, the amount and type of chocolate he ate, and determine the level of emergency. 

“When in doubt, take your dog to the vet,” Demling suggests. “Chocolate is very dangerous and it is best to be safe than sorry.”

But do not try to induce vomiting at home using hydrogen peroxide.

“I do not suggest any home remedies to treat chocolate toxicity, as there is a fine line between mild and severe toxicity which is best determined by the overseeing veterinarian,” Dr. Mahaney adds. “Hydrogen peroxide is very irritating to bodily surfaces and there can be severe damage to the respiratory tract that occurs as a result of an owner’s attempt to induce vomiting themselves instead of taking the dog to the veterinarian.”

And remember, it’s not just chocolate that’s a danger to our dogs.

“Sugar, fats, and other ingredients in Halloween candies can also cause digestive upset,” Dr. Mahaney adds. “Nuts, nut butters, and other fats can also cause pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas.”

Remember, accidents like eating chocolate happen to the best of us, even Dr. Mahaney. Read about how his dog Cardiff got ahold of dark chocolate and what the treatment looks like in Dr. Mahaney’s PetMD blog post, or check out True Story: My Dog Ate Chocolate. Here’s What Happened Next.

Costume Confusion

Kids love dressing up on Halloween but it’s downright confusing for our dogs!

“Your dog will not understand why the neighborhood kid he loves so much has suddenly turned into a monster!” Demling jokes.

A constant barrage of visitors at the door dressed as superheros, vampires, and ghouls can be very stressful for a dog, especially a nervous pooch.

Dealing says she “preaches prevention” and has the Halloween talk with clients well before the big day. Here are her tips for keeping your dog calm when trick-or-treaters come knocking:

  • If your dog is nervous, or likes to bolt, make sure he is secured in a separate room with a favorite toy or treat.
  • Place a baby gate to prevent your pooch from going near the entryway. For larger dogs, try a tall pet gate.
  • If your dog is not a fan of Halloween, walk him before dusk. “This will ensure he is well exercised and tired before the festivities begin,” Demling adds.
  • Praise your dog and toss him a yummy treat every time the doorbell rings, and he doesn’t react. “This will not only keep him from running to the front door—because he is busy eating his treat—but will help teach him that kids in costumes means fun instead of stress,” Demling explains.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing his current ID tags and his microchip information is updated, just in case he tries to escape.

Dressing Up Doggy

If you absolutely must dress up your dog, try a simple costume like the one pictured here. If your dog is uncomfortable, snap your picture and take off the costume. If you absolutely must dress up your dog, try a simple costume like the one pictured here. If your dog is uncomfortable, snap your picture and take off the costume.

You may think the hottest new dog costume is the Cutest. Thing. Ever. But if your dog is not used to wearing clothes, it could be cause for concern.

“He won’t understand the appeal of being a pumpkin or ghost for the night,” Demling says. “Plus, if he is already nervous and you put him in clothes that restrict his eyesight or movement on top of it, he is more likely to be reactive to all the other chaos of the Halloween holiday.”

If a pet costume is a must-have for you, put your dog in the costume, snap a picture, and take it off.

“You could also look for simpler costumers that are easier for the dog to adjust to,” Demling adds. “Looser fitting, no hats or wings—things like that.”

The Bottom Line

The spooktacular fun of Halloween can be a little intimidating for a dog who doesn’t understand all the hoopla. When it comes to your furry friend, be mindful of where you put the chocolate, exercise him early to drain his energy, and reward him with dog-safe treats when he is non-reactive to trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!

Please Help Us

We've got a small favour to ask. More people are reading IrishDogs.ie than ever, but far fewer are paying for it.

IrishDogs.ie takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters because it might well be your perspective, too.

Our future could be much more secure with your help. Please SUPPORT us by clicking on the Donate Button at the Top Right of your screen.

Comments (1)

Said this on 07/12/2015 At 04:26 pm

That's a good idea to keep our dog in their crate while there's so much chocolate around. We had a scary moment last year when we thought he'd eaten some. Luckily, he hadn't, but I still remember the panic. We will be more careful this year, so we don't have another emergency visit to the vet. 

Post a Comment
* Your Name:
* Your Email:
(not publicly displayed)
Reply Notification:
Approval Notification:
* Security Image:
Security Image Generate new
Copy the numbers and letters from the security image:
* Message:

Email to Friend

Fill in the form below to send this article to a friend:

Email to Friend
* Your Name:
* Your Email:
* Friend's Name:
* Friend's Email:
* Security Image:
Security Image Generate new
Copy the numbers and letters from the security image
* Message: