With these darker, more wintry nights now drawing in, it's time for the first of a few human festivals that have potential to harm our beloved pets. Believe it or not Halloween celebrations were once only about humans dressing-up (who knew right?), but nowadays of course, the whole family must get involved in the festivities - especially our four-legged friends.
So this Halloween weekend are you planning to dress your dog or cat in the cutest/silliest novelty costume you can find - or even make? Personally I'm not a massive fan of dressing up animals for fun as I'm not convinced all pets enjoy it; preferring that pets look just like pets i.e. happy in their birthday suit or perhaps donning just a fancy collar or Halloween-themed bandana - unlikely to cause any upset to any collar-wearing pet.
Sorry to sound like a killjoy but forcing some pets to become pumpkins, pirates, or even hot dogs for amusement purposes means unnecessary stress, resulting in abnormal, unwanted, even damaging behaviours. Ill-fitting outfits can also get twisted on external objects or even your pet, leading to potential life-threatening injuries especially if left unsupervised.
However if you do decide to adorn your pet in any of the thousands of crazy and 'hilarious' costumes that are so easily available nowadays, then please make sure they've tried them on before the big night and that they 'enjoy' it; making sure breathing, movement, hearing, and ability to bark or meow isn't impaired. Try not to put a mask on your dog or cat, or indeed anything covering their eyes or ears.
Please also double-check there are no small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that can be swallowed, inhaled, or choked on. Make sure your pet is properly identified underneath that outfit too, for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, its collar and tag, and microchip can be lifesavers.
With excessive quantities of sweets around at Halloween please remember chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely poisonous to dogs. Chewing gum containing artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause serious problems. Although generally safe, don't let your pet nibble on real pumpkins, as they can cause stomach upset. If you suspect your pet's ingested something harmful please call your vet immediately.
Take care adding candles to carved pumpkins too as pets can easily knock them over causing a fire, with curious puppies and kittens running the risk of getting burned or singed. Fake cobwebs can choke or entangle pets, and make sure any Halloween lights are kept well out of your pet's reach (especially puppies, kittens, and house rabbits) to prevent electric shock if chewed.
Worth also being aware that both masks and costumes can change people's looks and smells, so even familiar people can become noisy and frightening; with a nervous dog bite quickly ending any evening's fun. Make sure you keep pets in a room where they can feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed - rather than able to run away scared every time your front door opens!
Have a safe and happy Halloween with your pets folks!