Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience, October, 2011
Fall is officially here and Halloween is almost upon us! Some tips for a safe and happy October...
Health wise, the most obvious thing to watch out for this month is going to be all the extra candy floating around and possibly falling on the floor! Chocolate is no good for dogs, but for some reason, most of them don’t seem to know this. Try and keep it in closed cupboard doors when you are not partaking of your delicious stash. You don’t want to run the risk of your pup forgetting their manners and stealing some off the tables as the trip to the vet can not only be very costly, but the risk of actually losing your pup altogether is not even worth thinking about. I’ve had a client who went through this, and it is no fun to say the very least.
Behavior wise, Halloween night is a great night to see little witches and goblins, but some dogs may find this seriously frightening and/or may uncharacteristically feel the need to protect the family from the Shrek at the front door. When I was a kid, our family dog would bark ferociously if my dad came downstairs in his dad-PJs. (He still wears these actually.) She acted like she didn’t know him and would just lose it, barking and growling and running away. She never bit him, but she was obviously very uncomfortable with this “costume” at times and my mother would have to step in, “please stop scaring the dog Brad and go back upstairs.” If you think there is a chance of such a response, safest bet this night would be to find a quiet room for your pup to hang out with the TV or some classical music and chill out while you are busy handing out candy.
If you have a really kid friendly fellow who has never experienced Halloween before and you want him to join in on the festivities, try and get some of the neighborhood kids to dress up in their costumes prior to the big day and let your pup get to experience a little bit of Halloween in daylight with people he knows. This way you can test out his response to kids all dressed up and it won’t be such a dramatic thing to him come Halloween night.
And during the other days of October, enjoy the wonderfully crisp autumn air and get some endorphins going with some hiking with your pup!
Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
IACP Member #3141
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.