As we prepare for a Halloween that will look very different than past years, the potential dangers for your Greyhound remain the same. To help you gear up for a fun and safe celebration, we’ve compiled the top 5 Halloween dangers so that you can avoid a real nightmare for your Greyhound!
As discussed last week, candy poses some significant dangers for your Greyhound, and top of the candy wish-list is chocolate. Unfortunately, chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. That’s because it contains both caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are far more sensitive to these ingredients than people, and different types of chocolate contain varying amounts. In general, though, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Even if you and your family already ate all of the chocolate, you still want to keep the trick-or-treating bag far from pets. Eating too much candy of any sort can cause gastrointestinal upset, which can be a nasty experience for you and your pet. There’s also the concern that your hound could choke on an inedible item, like a lollipop stick or candy wrappers.
Candy bags and salty snack (e.g., chips, pretzels, etc.) bags can also turn deadly in a matter of minutes. A dog rummaging for crumbs can easily get their head stuck in a plastic or Mylar snack bag, creating a vacuum-like seal and suffocating in just 3–5 minutes! Once their head becomes stuck, the dog will panic, which depletes oxygen and raises carbon dioxide even faster. Regardless of the dog's size, they won't be able to get the bag off their head once it’s stuck. So be aware and take precautions.
While it can be tempting to dress up your dog on Halloween, if your pet hates wearing costumes, don’t torture him. Halloween costumes for pets are adorable, but they also tend to be cheaply made. Synthetic materials and poor construction mean these outfits can easily get caught on something, irritate the skin, or even become a choking hazard. Costumes should not restrict movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe. Do not use masks for them. Likewise, face paint and Halloween makeup can be toxic or cause serious allergic reactions, so they should never be used on your pets. Dogs who are wearing a costume should always be supervised by a responsible adult so that if something goes wrong, it can be addressed right away.
Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your dog in a costume for the first time. Get your pet costumes early, and put them on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). Make it a positive experience by offering lots of praise and treats. If at any time, your Greyhound seems distressed or develops skin problems from contact with a costume, ditch the idea. A festive bandana may be a good compromise. If you have your heart set on some pix for social, take them early and THEN ditch the costume. Your dog will thank you for it.
3. TRICK OR TREATERS
As fun as trick-or-treating is for kids, it can be an upsetting experience for our pets. There’s also a risk of Greyhounds darting outside when the door is opened. If the doorbell gives them anxiety, it’s best to keep your dog in a comfy and safe space where they have plenty of food and water and you won’t have to worry about them escaping or encountering any scary trick-or-treaters. You might also try placing your dog in a crate that’s filled with plenty of toys or interactive feeders and food puzzles to keep them entertained. If they are relaxed with visitors, keep them leashed so they can safely meet the giggling ghosts and goblins. Be sure their tags or chip registry has up-to-date information in case they escape.
If you plan on taking your dog with you for the trick-or-treating jaunt around the neighborhood (which isn't always a good idea for every dog), be sure to include some reflective or self-illuminating material on your pet’s costume. Night visibility on the roads is always lower in the fall. Whatever you can do to increase your dog’s visibility to passing cars will help to ensure that they won’t wind up getting hit by one of them.
4. HALLOWEEN REFRESHMENTS
Halloween is a time when groups of people (maybe smaller this year) converge inside homes for themed parties and scary movie binge-watching. So, it pays to set firm house rules when it comes to feeding the family pooch. As noted above, anything that contains caffeine could potentially prove fatal. That includes pumpkin-spiced lattes, mulled tea, hot cocoa, cola — and even coffee grounds. And feeding high-fat treats and trimmings from the holiday buffet table could prompt sudden pancreatitis flare-ups. Keep all these items far from questing noses.
Some owners think it’s super-cute to let their hound have a few slurps of beer. Unfortunately, ingesting even minute amounts of alcoholic beverages — and flavored coffee syrups, too — can lead to doggie digestive upset, liver issues or organ damage. Remember that a canine’s organs are much smaller than a human’s, and prone to faster impairment.
5. GLOW STICKS
As trick-or-treaters and revelers head out into the evening, many light their way with glow sticks and luminescent jewelry. The chemical mixture inside these products is very irritating to your dog’s gums and may cause drooling, foaming at the mouth, and vomiting. If your dog does chew on a glow stick, offer some fresh water or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth. Thankfully, unlike most of the other items on this list, glow sticks are unlikely to cause serious health problems.
As with most things though, if you’re aware of the potential Halloween hazards for pets and take the easy steps provided here, your whole family will be far more likely to have a Halloween full of fun and great memories, rather than a night (and a sizable chunk of change) spent in the local Animal ER. So have fun and stay safe!