Halloween is right around the corner and the Heidi’s Hounds team is looking forward to seeing all the furry ghosts and goblins on the South Shore!

Most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suits for Halloween festivities. However, the National Retail Federation states that pumpkins and hot dogs are the top two pet Halloween costume choices. If you choose a costume for your pet, introduce it to your pet slowly with plenty of treats and positive reinforcement. It’s best to start introductions at least a week before the costume will be worn. Forget the masks and anything else that covers eyes or ears. Make sure the costume is comfortable and allows your pet to move freely. Cut off any chewable parts or objects that could come off and choke your pet. As much fun as it is for us humans to dress up our furry friends, if your pet seems uncomfortable or frightened (folded down ears, tail tucked between legs) it’s best to take off the costume.

Some pets (including mine) find Halloween downright scary. Ringing door bells and spooky trick or treaters can be stressful. Keeping pets who are fearful of this tradition away from the ghosts and goblins at your front door is in everyone’s best interest. Many animal shelters indicate the day after Halloween is one of their busiest days with lost dogs being turned in. Put your frightened pets in a room with soothing music and favorite toys until all the ghosts and goblins are done for the evening. If your dog is crate trained this is a perfect “safe place” for him to chill out during the evening hub bub. Cats are always safest inside with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to secure them indoors. Make sure your pet is properly identified (microchip, collar and ID tag) in case he escapes through the open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters.

Keep in mind if you are having friends over for a Halloween party, masks and costumes change how people look and smell, so even familiar friends may become frightening to your pet.

If you’re going out trick-or-treating with the kids, leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the neighborhood Halloween commotion. A bite or a lost dog will quickly end your evening fun.

Don’t forget! The candy bowl is full of potential toxins for Fluffy and Fido. Many foods, such as chocolate, gum and xylitol (a sweetener used in many foods), are hazardous to pets. Please keep these sweet treats out of reach!