How Do Pets WANT to Spend Halloween?
Halloween may be the spookiest time of year, but you definitely don't want to spook your dog or cat. So consider your pet's personality when planning your trick-or-treat activities. Some pets love visiting with guests, and others prefer a quiet place away from the action. We spoke with Irith Bloom, a pet behaviorist with The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, to find out how you can understand what your pet really wants for Halloween.
Less is More When It Comes to Pet Costumes
In general, Bloom recommends not putting a costume on your pet. "Costumes can cause your pet to overheat," she says. "They restrict your pet's movement, and they can also be a choking hazard for pets who tend to chew on things."
If you just can't imagine not dressing up your pet, watch her closely the entire time the costume is on. And just keep it on for a few quick pictures. And remember: less is definitely more.
"Your pet is most likely to tolerate something like a colorful collar or ribbon that goes around the neck, since most pets are already used to wearing a collar," says Bloom. "If you want to do something more than that, another option is something that only covers part of the body, such as a tutu or skirt around the animal's hips."
Don't put anything over your pet's whiskers, eyes, nose, or mouth, because this will restrict her ability to sense what's happening around her and communicate.
"You should avoid costumes entirely in multi-cat households," Bloom says.
"Even a familiar cat will look and smell like an invader in a costume, and a costume can affect the cat's ability to move and communicate normally. All of this can lead to fights."
Be Cautious with Halloween Parties
If you're hosting a party at your home, many pets will prefer just staying in a quiet room by themselves. Put a sign on the door so no one accidentally opens it.
Bloom suggests asking a few questions to determine if your dog or cat can be allowed to roam freely during your party.
- Does your pet steal food? If so, your pet might steal party food and get sick.
- Does your pet go out of his way to approach strangers and get petted? Super social pets might love a fun-filled crowd.
- Is your pet comfortable with people who are dressed strangely or move oddly? If your pet barks or hisses at people in wheelchairs, using canes, or wearing hats, he won't handle a costume party well.
- Does your pet try to dart out the door? You can't depend on guests to keep doors shut. Keep your pet to an area of the gathering without access to the outside so he can enjoy the fun without the temptation to take the party outside.
Train a Shy Pet to Not Fear Doorbells
On Halloween, your doorbell will ring a lot. If you start several weeks in advance, you might be able to teach your pet to be comfortable with the sound, Bloom says. Record the doorbell, play it at a low volume, and give your pet a treat. Repeat this three to five times and then break for a couple hours. Once your pet looks for treats at the sound, turn up the volume slowly. Eventually build to the actual doorbell and opening the door.
If your pet doesn't take to this training, keep him in a separate room with a white noise machine to cover the sound of trick-or-treaters.
Watch Out for Halloween Hazards
Keep a close eye on your pet and keep her away from decorations and candy. She can get tangled in decorations or even eat them and hurt her mouth or stomach.
"Pretty much all Halloween decorations and goodies are hazardous for dogs and cats," Bloom said. "Your pets should not eat any human candy or other goodies."
For the safest holiday, keep your pet indoors, make sure his ID and microchip are up-to-date, and keep him in a separate room if he's shy. Focus on doing what's best for your pet's personality type, whether he's social or introverted.
And when you're eating that delicious holiday candy? Go ahead and give your pet an appropriate treat too. Maybe some Meow Mix Irresistibles® treats for your cat and some Milk-Bone® GravyBones® treats for your dog. Enjoy Halloween together—just do it the right way!
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