The holidays are just around the corner. We begin with Halloween and move on to Thanksgiving and all the celebrated religious holidays. There are food and people and festive activities that can be a concern for our dogs. All we have to do is remember our dogs are there and think about them in all our festive celebrations.
1) Keep treats and food out of reach. There is an abundance of good food and candy this time of year. It is important to know what human foods dogs can have and what human foods are harmful for them. Chocolate is not good for dogs and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) is in gum and mints and even some peanut butter and can be very toxic for our dogs. Dogs are very smart and good at getting to a source of food they are interested in. Make sure everything is put up high and out of their reach.
If you have small children who are sorting and enjoying their Halloween candy you may want to put your dog in a crate or another room for a short period of time.
Also glow sticks can be problematic for our dogs. Dogs are curious and can bite into the glow sticks releasing the fluid. Even though they are labeled nontoxic, it is best to keep them out of reach for our dogs. Also supervise your dog and don't let him get into the pumpkins. Small amount of real pumpkin is very good for dogs but eating pumpkin chunks from a whole pumpkin could cause intestinal blockage and that can be very painful for your dog.
2) Costumes are not for all dogs. Even though it is fun to think about dressing your dog up in a festive costume, you may want to consider how your dog feels about this. Most dogs truly do not like wearing human clothes. Small dogs are often dressed in human clothes rather routinely. For some dogs a coat is necessary to keep them warm when outside. Even my dogs wear a coat on very cold days in the winter.
Clothes can be restrictive for a dog and get in the way of their normal activity. Clothes can also be a hazard. Loose strings and decorative bobbles can easily get swallowed or create other safety concerns for a dog.
My dogs will wear a small decorative collar around their neck like in the picture of them. But it is on for a picture and then removed. I once made the mistake of letting the dogs outside with festive collars on and the end result was shredded and torn collars that could have been harmful to the dogs.
3) House decorations inside and outside can be a concern. Keep dogs away from pumpkins (especially one with candles burning) and cornstalks and poinsettia plants. Any decoration that can be eaten and played with could be a safety concern for dogs.
Remember to keep an eye out for dogs and children together and always supervise them.
This time of year can be exciting and fast movements and loud voices can be difficult for dogs. Keep everyone safe, especially when excitement levels are high.
4) Dogs engaged in activities can be fun. When all the children are coming to the door on Halloween it is fun to see the costumes and chat with them. They often approach the door with loud voices announcing "Trick or Treat". Dogs as a rule react to these high pitched voices and all the human activity. My dogs are excited to see the children and settle very quickly. However, we have a child gate at the door between the children and the dogs. After a while the dogs rest in their crate or another room until the activity subsides.
If your dog is not reliable in these situations you will want to keep him away from the door.
When there is a lot of activity opening gifts on other holidays I give my dogs a chew that lasts a long time to occupy them when the humans are busy exchanging gifts. Remember to be mindful of your dog and make sure they too are safe and taken care of during all the holiday excitement. Letting them participate at a level they can enjoy is best for everyone.
5) Make sure your dog has proper ID. Taking your dog with you going trick or treating may not be the best thing to do for your dogs benefit. The constant noise and many costumes can be a concern for your dog. Leaving him at home in a room with toys and quiet music may be the best choice. If you'er dog is with you or at home it is important to make sure he has proper ID.
If a dog runs away from a loud noise that may startle him, you may have a lost dog who can only be returned if he is wearing proper ID.
A tag with current information on how to contact you is important. If you have moved or changed your phone number make sure to change it on the dogs tag. A microchip ID is the best because it won't fall off like a tag can. Actually, I have both on my dogs and it feels more reassuring for me.
Holidays are a very special time. Dogs are members of our family and we want everyone human and canine to have a wonderful holiday time together. Just being aware and respectful of our dogs needs will make the experience successful for everyone!
WOOFS & SMILES!