Halloween Stress in Dogs

Halloween can be an incredibly stressful time for animals. Everyone is always so hyper; there are loud noises, yelling, screaming, and laughing. Not to mention all of the potentially scary costumes, and even the deplorable people who want to cause harm to animals during this time. Reducing dogs Halloween stress is something that many people may not even think about, but we urge you to take these steps to assure safety for your pets and all the people who may come near your pet during Halloween. While some dogs may be the calmest and have the most even temperament every other day of the year, when a kid with a mask comes running up to them, you never know if they will snap.

Reducing dogs Halloween stress tips and tricks

Why you shouldn’t feed your dog Halloween candy

Although you may consider your pet to be your kid, don’t give them candy or chocolate like you would the kids coming to your door! Chocolate is incredibly dangerous for dogs, and can be lethal in some cases. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and even seizures. Make sure you have a number for your local veterinary hospital, just in case.

One thing that might not be commonly known, is that Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is incredibly poisonous to dogs, even in small doses. Xylitol can be found in many candies and gums, so don’t just try to avoid chocolate!

Give dogs pet friendly treats on Halloween

Having pet friendly Halloween treats (or any treats really, they don’t have to be for Halloween), is a great way to reward good behaviour (like not barking every time the doorbell rings); you can also treat any dogs that are out with their owner’s trick or treating. Even getting Halloween themed toys is a great option for distracting them from potentially overstimulating situations.

Why should you keep your pets inside on Halloween?

Yes, GoFetch's main focus is dogs, but we are animal lovers all around. Cat owners: bring your cats inside a couple days before to a couple days after Halloween. People are incredibly cruel to cats, specifically black cats, around Halloween. This is true to the extent that many animal shelters won’t adopt black cats out during the month of October! It is best to keep all pets inside during this time, as much as possible, because there are incredibly terrible people in this world, and although their actions are inexcusable, they are also preventable. Not only that though, keeping your pets inside is an essential step in reducing dogs Halloween stress, because they will feel safe from all the loud noises, including fireworks.

How to keep dogs safe around fireworks

There are a thousand different ways dogs may react to fireworks. Some may howl, hide under the bed, or jump in the bathtub; while other dogs may sprint for the door and be gone for days. If your dog reacts to fireworks in a frightened way, a good way of reducing dogs Halloween stress is by keeping them in a “safe room” and playing music or have the TV on to diminish the loud banging noise of the fireworks. Furthermore, when your dog is fearful, don’t use a sympathetic voice telling them it will be OK. This may seem counter intuitive, but by doing this, you will actually be rewarding the frightened behaviour and make the dog think that you are scared as well. Best practice would suggest that you talk to the dog in an energetic and happy voice; a good idea is to try and distract your dog with toys and playing with them. Dogs take cues from you; so if you are fearful, chances are they will be as well.

Why should you keep dogs in a safe room during Halloween?

Having your pets in a safe room, with their toys and music playing is a great way for reducing dogs Halloween stress. With the music playing, they won’t hear the door bell ringing as much. Furthermore, they won’t have an opportunity to escape outside into the darkness. No one wants to spend their Halloween searching for their lost and scared family member! What’s more, having your pet separate from the guest coming to the door is also a great way to keep those strangers safe. You never know when something will just be too much for your dog, and they may put someone else in danger. Reduce this risk by keeping them away from kids in scary masks!

Can dogs eat pumpkins?

Yes, but not a lot. Reducing dogs Halloween stress also includes making sure they aren’t ingesting things they shouldn’t be. Pumpkin and corn are pretty nontoxic; but, they are choking hazards and can cause intestinal distress!

How to decorate for Halloween in a pet-friendly way

If you choose to use real candles in your pumpkins, make sure they are out of reach of dogs. Not only that though, make sure that they are not on anything that a dog can bump into, you do not want a lit pumpkin to fall on the ground and start a fire. Keep pumpkins outside or safely out of the way. Not only do you not want a fire to accidentally start, but you also don’t want curious little doggie noses to get burnt! When decorating for Halloween, have a lot of electrical or duct tape on hand. Tape all cords down to ensure that your dog won’t start chewing on them! Electrocution is a very real concern when decorating a house that has dogs, so don’t become complacent. Taking the necessary precautions for reducing dogs Halloween stress will not be done in vain.

How do you know if your dog is comfortable in their Halloween costume?

First thing you can do when you get a Halloween costume for your dog, is to try it on them before the big night. This way, they won’t be too anxious and can get a feel for the thing in their own home. Furthermore, they may even be allergic to the material, and you will be able to judge any irregular behaviour the costume may cause. Zippers and Velcro should not pinch your dogs skin. Make sure that you can easily fit two fingers in between the costume and your dogs neck — so as to ensure that it is not too tight or causing any difficulty breathing. If it impairs their ability to walk, see, hear, breathe, or bark — take it off. No matter how cute they are in it, it is not worth the stress and anxiety it would cause them. Further, always keep an extra cautious eye on a pet with a costume, as anything dangling off the costume could get stuck on something and trap or choke them. It is important to understand that pet costumes aren’t made as strong as pet toys; pieces can easily come off and end up being a choking hazard. Be very cautious of this. Not only will you be reducing dogs Halloween stress, but your own as well.

Why should you make sure your dog has identification?

Simple, so in the unfortunate event that they run away, they can be traced back to your loving home! Having proper identification on your dog's collar will substantially increase the chances of them being brought back to you. If someone finds a dog without any ID, they may assume it’s a stray and keep it as a ‘rescue’! Always make sure that the information attached to your dog is up to date and visible. You can make sure the tag doesn’t get too warn down, by putting a cover over top of the tag! It will be very obvious that this dog has a home, if it has a special cover over the ID.

Reducing dogs Halloween stress summary

We have listed here a bunch of tips that will help in reducing dogs Halloween stress; of course, there is always more that you can do. In general, if you are just cautious of the fact that dogs may not understand what is happening during Halloween, you will take a perspective of kindness and compassion towards them. A lot of what is written here is common knowledge, but reminders never hurt! If you have any other tips or tricks in reducing dogs Halloween stress, please leave us a comment!