Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 28th October 2023

Expert Halloween Warning For Dog Owners

Image by Dipak Patel from Pixabay
Image by Dipak Patel from Pixabay
Experts have warned dog owners about harmful Halloween food that may cost them £200 and an emergency visit to the vet. Although pumpkin carving is an iconic Halloween tradition, parts and products containing the fruit can cause serious damage to your dog if eaten.

Pumpkin pie fillings, blends, and mixes can make your dog ill as they often contain toxic substances like nutmeg and cinnamon, which can end up in an emergency out-of-hours trip to the vet with an average cost of £200.

Howden Insurance have advised how to avoid Halloween horrors for your pooch - and a costly vet bill - this October.

How can pumpkins harm your dogs?

Dogs can eat pumpkin, and it’s even recommended for their diet as it is a good source of fibre, iron, potassium, carotene, and vitamin A, and it aids digestion. Unsweetened pumpkin puree, canned or baked pumpkin should be fine for pups to eat. But some pumpkin parts and products are unsafe.

Pumpkin seeds, while edible, should be kept away from small dogs as they pose a choking hazard. Instead, vets recommend seeds be cleaned, peeled, roasted, and ground before being fed to a dog.

Pumpkin skin can also be a choking hazard that risks gut obstruction if swallowed. So make sure this is removed before feeding.

The stems and leaves are also harmful to pups, as they are covered with prickly hairs that can irritate their mouth, throat, and stomach.

Alternatively, fresh apples, also popular during Halloween, are fine to feed to dogs and can even freshen their breath.

What other Halloween food is dangerous for dogs?

Chocolate: It’s commonly known that chocolate is highly toxic for dogs, but owners should take extra care not to drop any on the floor or leave smears as dogs will eat it.

Grapes and raisins: Both can lead to kidney failure in dogs, so keep an eye out if your dog is around these foods.

Onions and garlic: These can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia.

Xylitol: According to Preventive Vet, there are over 700 products that contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener extremely toxic to dogs. It is found in baked goods, some nut butter, and sugar-free sweets, all typical during Halloween.

The experts recommend always reading labels carefully, never to risk it if in doubt, and to consult your vet before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Guide to playing doggy dress-up

Families love involving their beloved pets in festivities by dressing them up, and for some pups, it’s so much fun. There are some key guidelines to follow to make sure that your pet is happy dressing up.

Before the event, remove the costume from its packaging and leave it to collect your scent so it smells familiar.

Leave the costume where your dog can approach and sniff it.

Over the next few days, help your dog adjust by laying it across their back, and dress them up only when they are in a good mood: their tail is wagging, and their eyes are bright.

Remove the costume after a short period. Ensure it isn’t too tight or loose to impair movement. Keep their mouths, eyes, ears, and whiskers uncovered.

How to tell if my dog likes dressing up?

Some owners love playing dress up with their pooches. But some dogs take to this activity better than others. So, how can you tell what your dog thinks about wearing a costume?

Howden Insurance added:
“Pinned-back ears, heavy panting, or refusing to move are clear signs of discomfort and unhappiness. They also might try to remove the costume.

“Signs of happiness include being calm and well-behaved, with ears pointed forward. Some dogs love to dress-up and will even strut in their costumes.”

How to calm a nervous dog on Halloween

Halloween disturbs a dog’s routine, between all the unexpected knocking, people, outfits, parties, noises, and fireworks, so it’s normal for them to be nervous. But there’s a lot you can do to help your pup feel safe and calm.

Walk your dog before dark: If you can’t get out while it’s still light, try to expend energy in other ways, such as playtime.

Keep to their usual routine where possible: Keeping to your dog’s schedule will help them feel stable, comfortable, and calm.

Pre-empt knocks with a distraction, such as a long-lasting chew toy: Toys will help distract your dog and encourage self-soothing behaviours.

Separate your dog from your front door, for example, with a stairgate: It’s a temporary solution if they are still in training, but can help prevent them from escaping out the front door.

Leave sweets outside: Include a sign asking trick-or-treaters not to knock or ring the bell because you have a nervous dog.

Prepare a safe space for your dog: It could be a snug corner, under a table, or in their favourite room. Use extra blankets to make the space more cosy, reduce noise, and help them feel safer. Keep the space away from windows and doors if possible.

Reward good behaviour: Such as remaining calm, settling, and responding. Avoid scolding, which can agitate them further.

A spokesperson from Howden Insurance commented:
“Halloween and Bonfire Night can be scary and really upsetting for dogs and their owners. With these tips, owners can help keep their dogs safe and calm while enjoying the festivities.”

Information supplied by Howden Insurance