Spooky Season is upon us, and as pet owners, we need to take care to make sure our animals are safe this time of year. Here are some helpful hints to keep Halloween safe and fun for everyone!
Keep Your Pets Secure
On Halloween, you’re going to be opening and closing your door far more frequently than at any other time of the year! Due to that, it’s vital to make sure your pets can’t escape when you greet the trick-or-treaters. This is especially important if you live in an apartment with a door on the ground floor that opens onto the street rather than a hallway. If you have cats, keep them locked in a bedroom or bathroom. Dogs can be crated, in another room, or just behind a gate a few feet away from the door you open to hand out candy.
To make your pets even safer, consider closing the windows, blinds and playing Dog/Cat TV or a noise machine. If you’re a Bark Buildings resident you can take this opportunity to try out your free month of Dog TV - check the PERKS page on your building’s pet portal for more detail on how to redeem! This will be more helpful to your animal if you have an anxious pet or live in a city that has a Halloween parade or fireworks that may frighten them.
Avoid Yard Decor and Spooky Streets
Some Halloween fans may be putting out skeletons, witches, webs, and headstones on their stoops and storefronts as early as late September. Make yourself aware of how easily spooked your dog is by novel stimuli, and plan your walks accordingly to avoid them when possible. You don’t want to have your dog slip his harness in an attempt to escape an animatronic spider, or have to pay a neighbor back for the Party City werewolf your dog
engaged in a wrestling match!
Most dog parents take their pups out for an evening walk, but on Halloween (and in some areas, Mischief Night, too) it’s best if you do it in the early evening or late afternoon before dark. This way, you can avoid most costumed kids, rowdy teenagers or adults going out for a night of drinking and fun. And if your dog DOES have to really go when it’s dark, avoid the festivities and go to your building’s dog run, or keep the walk in a quiet, little-trafficked area or alleyway.
Beware of Halloween Hazards
What dog (or child, for that matter!) doesn’t try to steal a treat when no one is looking? Most dog lovers know that chocolate is dangerous when consumed by canines and
typically keep it out of reach. But on Halloween, you may have a large bowl of candy sitting near the door that can be very tempting to your dog. Keep it high enough that they can’t reach it, or cover it with a lid when you’re not handing it out.
If you have children in your home, make sure they are careful with their candy and don’t drop pieces or leave their bag of sweets out where the dog could get into. Be mindful, too, when it comes to your neighbors’ Halloween setups that include tempting treats. If you leave a bowl of candy out for the kiddies while you go out at night—put it on a stool or chair, not on the ground where a passing dog might snitch a Snickers!
If you decide to have a Jack-O-Lantern, make sure to keep this away from your pets too. A
curious cat could set their tail aflame, or a nosy dog might tip it over and cause a small fire. Keep your pumpkins and pets protected with a faux flame. On the topic of pumpkins, though, this is a much safer alternative to treat your pets with than candy. If you want to surprise them with an extra special treat on Halloween night, we recommend googling for pumpkin treat recipes or simply picking up a can of pet-friendly pumpkin puree to mix with their food, which is a great treat even for those with sensitive stomachs!
Be Careful in Costume
Even the friendliest dog or cat may behave aggressively when they feel threatened, and many Halloween costumes are scary. Animals don’t understand the concept of clothing or masks, so if they see a monster walking toward them, they will believe it’s a real monster and act accordingly! Some dogs may even react this way if the person wearing the costume is someone they know. If you’re going to put on costumes, it may be helpful to have your animals see you put it on—but even then, they may still bark or hiss! Dogs' unpredictable reactions to people in costume is another reason to keep them away from the door where they might try to defend their home against trick-or-treaters.
Doggy Dress-Up and Kitty Costumes
It’s hard to resist putting your pet into a cute or funny costume. The important thing to remember when purchasing or making a costume for your pet isn’t just how cute they’ll look, but their comfort. Consider getting costumes that may be less cumbersome for the animal, such as a funny shirt or sweater, rather than an elaborate one with hats, headbands or blocky, strange-feeling parts.
Cats are less tolerant of annoyances, so they may react aggressively if you try to dress them up, resulting in a torn costume and scratched-up hands! Put costumes on your pets if you know they will tolerate them, and only choose to join a costume parade or contest if your pet can manage the whole time. If your dog does seem especially stressed—for example, if they are panting excessively or continuously trying to paw off the outfit - don’t keep it on for more than a few moments to take a photo. After all, Halloween should be fun, safe, and not stressful for everyone!