Halloween is a great time to talk about pet safety. With every human celebration there are opportunities for lapses in household security resulting in accidents or escapes. Strangers stopping by and parties offer access to large amounts of food and candy. While only pigs and dogs–and a certain two-legged animal–seem to be at the greatest risk for overindulging, you should consider a few ways to batten down the hatches and protect your pets from mishap.
One specific All Hallows Eve hazard must be addressed: Costumes are scary to pets, whether worn by familiar people or on strangers. But most well-adjusted dogs like attention from humans and nothing reels us in like a pumpkin suit from Target. Some dogs who seek creature comforts are already accustomed to snuggling under blankets and even wearing little sweaters. Show dogs are used to clippers and barrettes so they can accept a little primping. There are a few breeds of dogs who would not even notice they’ve got a costume on and out of sensitivity to their doting owners. As far as cats go, there are as many that would run screaming from the building if asked to sport a bandana as those that would wear a tutu if it would garner them the limelight.
If you want your dog to cope, then gradual introduction is in order. Choose your pet’s costume early because, as a rule, dogs don’t like hats or shoes, though they can certainly be taught to tolerate them for the promise of some of your filet. You may have heard the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach, but of dogs it can be said without reservation. Good dogs have already adjusted to hugging, kissing, and lots of loud vocalizing and machinery. A costume may not be too much to ask.
As for cats, please remember that they don’t like to be restrained (necessary for donning outerwear designed by humans) and since they are the pet closest to earning the vote, we might want to take heed. Costumes on cats can lead to entanglement which could actually be dangerous. I’ve known a bunny to sport a chapeau and a few hamsters who could handle a bow tie but I have a feeling their publicists handled the requests very carefully.
Bottom line: Just be sure you know your pet. I am certain that my parrot could create a birdie hazard out of marshmallows without even trying.
For rescues with animals in need, consider costumes that everyone can handle. Decorations on cages can serve as boredom busters and most dogs can handle a skull and crossbones collar or bandana. You might also consider non-toxic, non-permanent Pet Tattoos (which really aren’t tattoos at all). Groomers use an airbrush to decorate a dog’s coat with messages like “Adopt me” or a paw print. It’s all in good fun and can help pets get noticed for adoption.
No matter what you decide for your pet this season, remember, stress doesn’t always bring out the best in everyone, and our animal companions are no exception. If you do encounter an incident, take responsibility as needed, and be sure to report any human injuries. Have a safe and happy Halloween!