- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Every holiday with a new puppy carries its own set of joys and challenges—perhaps none more so than that festival of ghosts and goblins, Halloween. What do you need to know about celebrating this spooktacular day with your new pet? We’ve got all the details.
1. Pick Out a Great Costume
Help your puppy celebrate in style by decking them out in an adorable costume. There are lots of dog costumes available in stores and online, or, if you’re feeling crafty, you can make your pet’s costume yourself. You might want to check out the American Kennel Club’s handy guide for selecting the perfect costume.
Whether you’re choosing a goofy costume or a spooky one, you’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortable and that the costume doesn’t restrict their movement, obscure their vision, or cause any irritation.
Consider your dog’s safety when choosing a costume and getting them into it. The AKC notes that you should avoid costumes that feature glitter, buttons, gemstones, and other choking hazards. Watch out for loose parts that might get caught or tangled while your pet is playing. And, of course, you should keep an eye on your dog while they’re dressed up to make sure they stay safe.
You might find that getting your pet into their costume, especially the first time, is quite an endeavor. Make the process fun by showering your dog with praise and offering lots of treats. If your dog really isn’t having it, save the costume for next year and opt for a fun bandana or a cheery bow tie instead.
2. Take a Walk Early
Consider taking your puppy out for their evening walk before the trick-or-treat crowds come out. The AKC recommends going out while it’s still light, so you can avoid kids in costumes and any candy or discarded wrappers that might be on the ground. This walk is also a great way to get out some of your puppy’s boundless energy so they can relax during the evening’s festivities.
3. Look Out for Decorations
Decorating for Halloween is tons of fun, but be careful to keep your new pet away from decorations that might cause them harm. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that wires and lit jack-o-lanterns can pose a danger to your pet. Be careful with festive decorations that feature power cords or synthetic spider webs, as they can easily pose a tangling or choking hazard for a curious puppy.
4. Beware of Candy
Halloween is brimming with tasty snacks for humans, and some of those snacks can be dangerous for your puppy. In particular, candies containing chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, or Xylitol (an artificial sweetener) can be highly toxic to dogs. Some other candies can be safe if accidentally ingested in small quantities, but because a dog’s digestive system isn’t designed to process candy, you should still feed your dog their own treats and save the sweets for yourself. Check out our Halloween candy safety guide to learn more.
If you want to really get in the Halloween spirit with your pup, make them a special treat to enjoy while everyone else is snacking on candy. Whip up some of our favorite autumnal recipes for DIY pumpkin spice dog treats, peanut butter softies, or homemade apple pie bites (so delicious, you’ll want to eat them too).
5. Answer the Door with Care
Trick-or-treating is a blast for kids, but might be a bit too spooky for your new puppy. Some dogs are afraid of people in masks, hats, or big coats—and the crowds of excited little ones on Halloween can be scary for a nervous dog.
It’s also common for dogs to bark at the sound of a knock or doorbell. They’re usually just excited, but sometimes this barking can be a sign of fear. Check out our guide to learn more about doorbell-triggered barking.
Even if your puppy seems unconcerned by the door, they could be easily startled by the unpredictable nature of Halloween night. The AKC suggests that you should make sure their ID tags are up-to-date and consider visiting the vet to get them microchipped before the big day—just in case they get spooked.
To prevent your dog from jumping up on guests or accidentally getting outside, consider keeping them on a leash while you’re opening the door for visitors.
Finally, for everybody’s sanity, you might want to keep your dog away from the door when trick-or-treaters come knocking. The AKC notes that dogs can easily become stressed when their normal routine changes. The excitement of the holiday might cause discomfort and fear for your new puppy, so consider keeping them in a bedroom or other cozy area with toys, a comfortable bed, and fresh water. As always, check on them often to make they’re safe.
6. Have Fun
The most important part of Halloween is fun! Once you’ve made sure your puppy is safe, comfortable, and happy, celebrate with a tasty treat and a festive photo shoot to commemorate their first Halloween with you.
Featured image: kingautmanthe3rd/Flickr