A Daschund dressed up as a hotdog? Who can resist?! For many people Halloween is a time to dress up not only themselves, but their dogs and even cats as well. However, before you get Fido all dressed up for a night of trick or treating, keep in mind that the most important thing for Hallowe'en night is to have a safe and fun evening and to accomplish this your four legged friends might be better off at home.
While wearing coats, dresses, sweaters and boots may be regular attire for some dogs, the vast majority of pets are not used to sporting duds of any kind. If you are considering putting your pet in costume for Hallowe'en take the time to consider what your pet is used to when picking a costume out. Those dogs that usually wear a coat, would likely be quite comfortable in a coat or onesie type costume. An animal that never wears any clothing other than their collar is probably better off with a dressed up collar than a full body suit. Once you have picked out a costume provide ample time to “test drive” the outfit before the big day. Assess how your pet is acting when in costume. Do they appear their normal selves? Are they shying away from people? Do they seem “embarrassed”? Unless your pet is displaying their normal attitudes and behaviours, you should think twice about whether they should be in costume. Even if your pet is super confident in their costume, be sure to provide lots of positive reinforcement – treats, pats and fun games. Cats can be more difficult than dogs, but the same concepts apply; pick an appropriate costume, test drive it first and make sure to have lots of positive reinforcement.
It's also important to always supervise your pet while they are wearing their costume. Cats and dogs are curious and may try to chew at their costume, or become tangled in it themselves or in their environment.
Now that the costume is all sorted out, where to go? While it may be enticing to think of trick or treating with your dog, it is usually a safer bet to keep them at home. Even very well socialized dogs can become frightened or startled by children running around in costume in the dark. Additionally, costumes often make it difficult for us to read our pets’ body language so we may miss vital clues that they are becoming anxious in the situation. If you must bring your pet with you try to stay away from large crowds, have lots of treats available to reward good behavior and act as a distraction, use an appropriately sized leash and collar so that you have good control. Remember, the safest place for your pet this Halloween is usually at home in their familiar environment.
Keep in mind, also, that chocolate and artificial sweeteners can be harmful to your pets. If they decide to taste-test the candy stash and you are concerned, please don't hesitate to give us a call. We can help determine whether they have ingested enough to be toxic. The type and quantity of chocolate as well as the size of your pet will let us know if there's a reason to be worried. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol can cause reactions in your pet as well, and they should be monitored if they've eaten sugar-free candies.
Whether you end up leaving the furry family members at home or taking them along for the evening, we wish you and your pets a safe and happy Halloween!
P.S. Did you know that we now have a Facebook page? Find us at Guelph Lake Vet Hosp!