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Halloween Tips & Tricks

Fall is by far my favorite season! I've never been super into Halloween itself, but I absolutely love the decorations and atmosphere of it all!


As fun of a holiday as it is, it comes with some big risks for our dogs - from toxic candy to being scared by fire works, there's a lot we need to be on watch for to keep our dogs safe.



Dangers of Halloween


The obvious big one, Chocolate. While the typical Halloween candy doesn't contain nearly enough chocolate to seriously harm the average sized dog, getting into sugary milk chocolates can cause stomach upset and pose poison risks to smaller dogs. If your dog ever ingests baker's chocolate or dark chocolate, there is a high risk of poisoning and you should contact a Veterinarian right away and induce vomiting (see full post here)


Xylitol - Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is widely used as a sugar substitute and is becoming more and more popular in candies and other sweets.

In both humans and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. When dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a large release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin causes a quick drop in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and can be a medical emergency. *Also labelled as BIRCH SUGAR


Raisins (grapes) - these can be a common ingredient in Halloween treats and should always be avoided. Although the exact substance that causes the toxic reaction is not yet known, it has been shown that even small amounts of grapes or raisins can prove to be fatally toxic for some dogs, causing kidney failure.


Marijuana/THC - with marijuana and now edibles being legal, it's important that you keep your dog far away from these substances. Dogs can be temped to eat left over joints or butts and edibles that are left out. While THC is fun for us humans, it is not safe nor does it act the same way for our dogs. Symptoms to watch for with possible THC ingestion include lethargy, dilated pupils/glassed over eyes, tremors, difficulty walking, loss of bladder control, convulsions and trouble regulating body temperature. (and coma in extreme cases).


All of the above, you can induce vomiting if ingested within an hour of consuming.


Triggers/Loud Noises/Fireworks/Scary People - If there ever was a day for your dog to be a flight risk, it's Halloween. Anything can startle your dog and cause them to bolt in panic such as people in scary masks, jump scars, decorations, fireworks, etc and it is so important to keep your dog safely secured inside the house or a crate and keep them on leash when out of the house. Even a well trained dog can spook and take off, don't risk it! ALWAYS keep updated ID tags on your dog (update their microchip/tattoo info!) and if walking them in the dark, use a light up collar or glow stick to keep them visible.


Front Door - if you're partaking in treat or treating, your door is going to be constantly opening and closing with strangely dressed little humans on the other side. This can be really overwhelming for a dog (understandably!). Give your woofer a job when someone knocks at the door. This is when you should ask you dog to go to their crate or bed and ask for a sit or down while you go and answer the door. Once the door is closed, release your dog and give them tons of praise and reward! BABY GATES can be a fabulous training tool and help eliminate risk of running out of the door.

If your dog isn't quite good at this yet (and that's okay!), have someone else help you out or safely tether the dog to a sturdy object to help them stay in place. Release and reward once the door closes.


Don't expect them to know how to behave without practice! Don't wait to do this drill for the first time on Halloween night (I'm posting this early so you have time to practice this before the 31st). Make time to practice someone knocking on your door before the busy holiday! (Youtube works great to play a doorbell or knocking sounds)

Make a door sign to let people know you are training! Posting "Dog in training, it may take a minute to come to the door" will help keep halloweeners at bay while you get your dog in place.


If your dog just can't handle all the excitement, it is better to have them set up in a safe area like a bedroom or crate enjoying some anti-anxiety music (again, Youtube) and give them a high valued chew such as stuffed kong, bully stick or raw bone to keep their mind busy.

DON'T FORGET TO EXERCISE YOUR DOG!

Just because it's a holiday doesn't mean we get a day off from being responsible dog owners! Exercise is even more important when you have a big event happening such as trick or treaters and a tired dog will handle things better and not have pent up energy to burn. Carve out time in your day for a good exercise session before the evening starts!

Finally, find out which local vet clinic is open on Halloween in the event you have an emergency. Here in Kamloops we have multiple clinics that share on call nights, you can call any of these clinics and be transferred to the Vet on call (Oriole Road, Kamloops Vet and Aberdeen Vet are all great).


Other places you can get help include the Pet Poison Hotline and the Chocolate Toxicity Meter (enter the details to find out if your dog is at high risk).


Halloween isn't all bad for our dogs! There are some great things the can enjoy such as...


Cooked Pumpkin and Sweet Potato - cooked pumpkin and sweet potato are often in abundance in fall and both are great sources of added fiber for our dogs! They also give a boost of Vitamin A, potassium and other nutrients! Pumpkin acts as a prebiotic in dogs and it can enhance the growth of good bacteria in your dog’s gut.


Pumpkin Seeds - these actually act as a natural dewormer! Seeds contain a high amount of an amino acid called curcurbitacin, which aids in deworming. Make sure you are using unsalted seeds if buying from the store or dry them fresh in your oven. Simply blitz them in a grinder and add a quarter teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight (start small). Works as a great preventative a few times per year (what I do with my dogs).


Socialization Training - all the scary looking things are also a training opportunity! Let your dog explore around Halloween decoration and use tons of positive associations with your dog's favorite rewards. They can also work on taking treats and being calm around people that are dressed up and kids running around.


On a final note, look at this day from your dog's perspective - it can be a lot, they do not understand what we are celebrating at that all the scary things are for fun. Scaring your dog or letting others scare your dog isn't funny and can cause lasting trauma. Your dog is just trying to figure it all out and it's out job to gently guide them through this with patience!


If you need any additional help this halloween, send me a woof!





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