One member of your family who may not take kindly to the holiday is your pet, particularly dogs who might turn aggressive if you suddenly appear before them as your favorite ghoulish character.
With that in mind, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is warning pet owners well in advance of the holiday that their cats and dogs could be scared out of their fur coats this season.
“Dogs believe they are the guardians of their homes, and they can feel threatened if a stranger enters their space,” explains Dr. James O. Cook, president of the AVMA. “If your dog is apprehensive in these situations, you need to be sensitive to that and make preparations before Halloween to keep your dog — and all the little neighborhood ghosts and goblins-safe.”
Some pets can quickly realize that is a friend, not a foe, behind the mask and remain calm when approached by a costumed character. Other dogs may get startled and react by biting strangers or owners who suddenly appear out of nowhere and scare them.
“What’s important is that you be responsive to your dog and prepare ahead of time for the holiday,” he says. “If your dog gets nervous when the doorbell rings, put the dog in a place where it will feel safe. This could be inside a crate with a favorite toy or treat, or inside a familiar room with the door closed. This will make the dog feel safer and calmer.”
“If your dog appears to be excessively stressed, look to your veterinarian for help,” Dr. Cook adds.
The AVMA is also warning pet owners to be careful about leaving Halloween candy around especially chocolate which is poisonous to dogs. Young children have a tendency to share table scraps with dogs and might do the same with a piece of candy. The association warns that both practices can be dangerous and is urging families to protect their children as well as their pets.
“Children tend to want to share their treats with their pets, and the dog is all too happy to oblige,” Dr. Cook explains. “Warn your children beforehand that table scraps are unhealthy for pets, and that candy can be deadly.”
Have a fun and safe Halloween, but don’t forget to mind your pets who are prone to find the holiday anything but enjoyable.
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