Halloween is a spooky time of year, there is no doubt. Children dress in ghastly costumes, adults adorn the house with spider webs and skeletons, and jack-o-lantern lights flicker by night. We even find graveyards popping up around the neighborhood. It’s an odd tradition when you step back to consider what we do to celebrate this holiday. It’s all in good fun, and everyone can benefit from a good-hearted scare once in a while. From a dog’s perspective though, it’s even scarier!
We all know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs, but it’s a good time to refresh on some other dangers that are often overlooked. The sugar and wrappers in and around candy can be very dangerous to dogs, but the artificial sweeteners are even more toxic. Be sure to hide the candy once it’s in the house.
While I’m guilty of dressing up my dogs like princesses and pirates from time to time… I mean, what’s not funny about transforming my dog into a rodeo pony with a $15 dog-sized saddle and a vinyl cowboy bronco rider perched on top? It’s always good for a giggle, but it’s important to remember that it’s really for our benefit and not theirs. Dogs don’t always enjoy playing dress-up as much as we’d like to think they do.
You may have a ham on your hands that just loves the attention of costumes, but in case you’re not sure, here are a few stress signals to watch for that indicate your dog isn’t having fun:
* Tail lowered or tucked between the legs, or the body in a cowering position.
* Lip licking – dogs will often flick their tongues briefly. This is one of the most common stress signals and one we almost always miss.
* Half-moon Eye – Much like people in a frightened state, dogs can become wide-eyed when stressed or fearful. You won’t normally see the whites of your dog’s eyes when they are calm or relaxed. If you see the whites appear (resembling a half-moon sliver at the edges), your dog is trying to tell you he’s uncomfortable.
* Yawning – If Fifi is yawning, it’s almost never because she’s ready for her beauty rest. It’s almost always a sign of stress or discomfort. It’s time to take off the tutu…
As Halloween approaches, keep your dog’s best interest in mind. If she’s not a fan of strangers and guests at the door under normal circumstances, chances are good that the costumes and repetitive door ringing or yelling will only heighten the anxiety. Consider sending your dog to a friend’s house or treat her to an overnight visit at a reputable boarding facility if you’re expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters. She’ll thank you for avoiding a potentially stressful situation.
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