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What To Know Before Taking Your Dog Trick-Or-Treating This Halloween

Halloween can be a scary time for your little werewolf.

With Halloween fast approaching, pet owners are busy finding the perfect costumes for their pups. But before dressing up your dog for a night of trick-or-treating, make sure he is comfortable getting in on the holiday fun.

Whether giving out the candy or hitting the streets, pet owners should take precautions when October 31 rolls around. Depending on where you live and how you celebrate, Halloween can be on par with July 4 and New Year’s Eve when it comes to lost dogs — the noisy parade of monsters and ghouls ringing your doorbell can be extra anxiety inducing for a pet, causing him or her to bolt in search of a safer place.

Celebrate Halloween responsibly with a few easy safety measures:

If you are trick or treating

Before exposing your pet to a scary environment, make sure he is comfortable walking around the neighborhood on Halloween, notes Dr. Robert Proietto, a veterinarian based in New York City. If your dog is sensitive to noise or crowds, you may want to reconsider your plans.

“It is important to understand your dog and not push his boundaries,” Proietto tells The Dodo. “One of the things we see during Halloween is animals that escape and get hit by cars. It is very important that you keep your pet safe and in a secure environment during this scary holiday.”

If your dog is dressing up, tweak his costume to help keep him safe on busy streets. “Consider putting reflectors on your dog’s costume if you decide to take him trick or treating,” Proietto recommends, “just as you would for young children.”

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Be sure that your dog’s costume fits well, without impairing your pup’s movement, vision or breathing. If candy collection is going to take a while, pack water and a bowl for your dog, and give him plenty of breaks to rest along the way.

And, as always, keep your pet on a leash, stresses Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture. With all the loud noises and scary costumes, you want to be sure that you can steer your pup out of trouble when needed.

Before heading out, have a plan in place to get your dog home safely if you find he isn’t enjoying the walk. Never force your dog to endure a frightening situation, as it will only make things worse down the road.

“Your dog may lose interest, so have an exit plan in place should it be too stressful for your dog,” Barrack tells The Dodo. “Perhaps one parent can bring the pup home and another continue trick-or-treating with your kids.”

If you are staying home

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If your dog is relaxing at home on Halloween night, be sure he has a safe place to escape scary noises — whether that’s a bedroom, bathroom or crate.

“Lots of people in and out of the home can be stressful for dogs and cats. Make sure they have a safe quiet place to relax and that they are not inadvertently let out of the home when the door is opened,” Barrack notes. “This is particularly important with regard to Halloween trick-or-treaters when the door is being opened repeatedly and scary costumes and loud noises could alarm your pet.”

And, as always, keep all candy far away from your pets and discuss the dangers of chocolate with the whole family to avoid a trip to the vet.

Stress-relieving products such as Thundershirts, herbal calming balms or pheromone spray may help relieve some of your pet’s holiday anxiety, and can be discussed with your vet ahead of time.