This is reprinted from a post by Marisa Landau who owns a dog walking company in Bethesda, MD.
Halloween is a fun time for kids and adults, but it can also be scary for animals if you're not careful. Any holiday brings an increased risk of harm and health problems for animals when candy and decorations are involved, but Halloween can be especially risky for a number of reasons. We encourage everyone to have a safe and fun holiday, but please keep the safety and well-being of your pets in mind!
1. Never leave your dog outside unattended - this is a generally safe rule to follow, but it is particularly important on Halloween. It is a sad truth that disturbed individuals have been known to injure and even kill pets on Halloween. No matter how safe your neighborhood may be, Halloween often brings out the pranksters and vandals, so don’t take any chances and keep your dog inside with you where you know he is safe.
2. Most people will agree that there is nothing cuter than a dog in costume. However, as appealing as your dolled-up pup may be, it is important to always keep your dog's happiness, safety and comfort in mind.
If you are going to put your dog in costume, make sure it fits properly and does not pose a risk of strangulation. Remove any loose accessories that could be choked on such as ribbons or buttons. If your dog seems even the slightest bit uncomfortable, please reconsider your costume choice. A ballerina beagle may look adorable, but your dog does not know why he is wearing the getup and may do whatever it takes to get out of it, including chewing through the fabric.
This will not only destroy the costume, but may cause him to ingest pieces that could lead to choking. A costume should not inhibit a dog's ability to see, hear, eat, drink, walk or go to the bathroom. The cuteness factor is not worth the annoyance to your dog or the risk of injury.
Try getting creative - there are plenty of costumes you can make at home that don't require elaborate masks or accessories. Never leave your dog in a costume unattended. If you decide to bring your dog trick-or-treating, I suggest putting a few pieces of reflective tape on your dog's costume so he is visible to other drivers and people in the dark.
3. Everyone knows the best part of Halloween is the candy, but unfortunately this is one of the main reasons that vets see an increase of sick animals around this holiday. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and will likely notice the increase of sweets in the house. Keep all types of candy away from your dog!
Most people already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and can make them very sick. But chocolate is not the only sweet treat that poses a risk. Sugar-free candy contains a chemical called Xylitol that can make dogs severely ill even in small doses. Candy foil and wrappers can be just as harmful, as they can cause choking or a blockage in a dog's digestive tract. If you have kids, let them know that the dog cannot share their Halloween treats.
If you are worried about your pooch feeling left out of the fun, consider making dog-friendly homemade treats.
4. If you put up Halloween decorations, be sure to keep them well out of your dog's reach. Dogs gravitate towards things that are shiny, small and/or inedible - all of which can cause serious health problems! Candles, lights and cords are a huge safety hazard for all pets. A curious dog that gets too close could be burned or electrocuted. A wagging tail can knock over a candle and start a fire in no time at all! Instead of putting a candle in your pumpkin consider using a small battery-powered light, which is safer and lasts longer!
5. Make sure your dog is in a safe, secure place when the trick-or-treaters come knocking at your door. The continuous knocking or ringing of a doorbell combined with the constant opening and closing of the door will offer plenty of opportunities for your pet to dart out and run away.
In addition, strangers arriving in spooky masks can be very frightening and could cause even the friendliest dogs to behave aggressive or territorially as a result of stress and fear. To avoid unnecessary stress or unpleasant confrontations with the neighborhood children, I suggest keeping your dog in a separate room. Try leaving a radio or TV on to drown out the sound of the many visitors. If your dog isn't already microchipped, there is no better time than now. Be sure that your dog is wearing his collar and identification tag at all times.
6. No matter what your friends said in college, a drunk dog is NOT a happy dog. Never ever give any amount of alcohol to any animal. If you think it would be funny to see your dog intoxicated, think again. Alcohol is essentially poison to dogs and can cause symptoms including but not limited to: vomiting, disorientation, seizures, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and death. If you have a party make sure you clean up any leftover drinks, as some dogs are attracted to the sweetness of beer and wine.
While keeping your family safe during Halloween is always a must, keeping your pets healthy and safe is also essential. If you have kids, I recommend sharing these tips with them so they can learn how to be responsible and keep their beloved pet safe while enjoying the Halloween festivities. Please safe, be smart and have a very happy Halloween!