Halloween is just around the corner. The day before Halloween in my local area is called Cabbage Night because of the tradition of pranks involving the tossing of local cabbages! I don’t get it either – I just go with it. Regardless, Halloween, like every other day of the year, is a great time to have fun with your dog.
History of Dressing Up Dogs
We humans have a Long history of dressing up our canine friends because we anthropomorphize our pets. That means that we treat them as if they were human and ascribe human emotion and motivation to them. The rational part of our brains recognize that our dogs are a different species with different motivations and preferences than us, but our emotions tend to rule our actions. There are early stories of rich folk dressing their dogs up as if they were themselves little human beings. We have such a strong bond with our dogs that they are members of our families, and if they are family, then they must dress and act like they are members of our family!
What do our dogs make of all of this? I am certain that most will see it as part of the price they must pay in order to enjoy a cushy life sleeping on the sofa and eating our pizza. Some dogs really enjoy getting dressed up. Some dogs really hate it! I have two chihuahuas. The older one just loves wearing clothes. He can tell when we’ve been shopping for pet clothes and he is anxious to try it on no matter what it is. He is Joe Cool when he is stylin’! The younger chihuahua absolutely hates wearing anything. He wants to be naked all the time and only tolerates wearing a harness going out because he knows that we have a leash law in our town.
Still, there is nothing more fun than putting a costume on our fellas and taking video or photos and posting it online. Then it becomes a famous meme.
Fun and Games
Many animal shelters around the United States use our desire to dress up our dogs to raise money through a canine and kitty costume event. This is an excellent way to build up community cohesion, raise money for a worthwhile cause, and provide an excellent way to let us have fun with our pets! Memes of these events are posted on social media in the hundreds during this time of year. I truly enjoy wasting time by reading them all because most will get me to smile and some will make me laugh so hard that the root beer comes out of my nose!
Along with Halloween, there are Halloween treats. Please, please, please do not share your candy with your dog!! Chocolate is poisonous to dogs! It is one of the most common ways that dogs can be poisoned. Some warning signs that your dog has chocolate poisoning include:
- Extreme Thirst
- Too much energy
You should contact your vet right away. Some vets will instruct you to induce your dog to vomit. If your dog at chocolate, don’t wait for symptoms to appear as this can take several hours. Symptoms can also last several days.
WebMD has some handy tips for dealing with your dog after eating chocolate.
Besides chocolate, xylitol, a sugar substitute, is extremely dangerous for your dog. Xylitol is found in sugar free gum, and many other products. It is safe for humans, but deadly for your dog by causing hypoglycemia. Symptoms include:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty standing or walking
- Depression or lethargy
Symptoms can begin within 15-30 minutes of ingestion. It is vital to get your dog to the vet immediately. There is more information available here.
The Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day at 855-764-7661.
Besides the problems with dogs ingesting anything that is not meant specifically for a dog to ingest, there are other issues surrounding Halloween that you should be aware of.
Strangers coming to your door. This will probably make your dog freak out and bark. It does with both of mine. They will bark at people walking by the house on the street. They go crazy with people at the door. When this happens all night, it is just bedlam! Keep your dog in his crate. If your dog is not crate trained, then keep her in a back room. They will still bark, but it will be less traumatic for your small guests.
Dogs running off. Along with small people ringing your door bell, you must open your door in order to offer the candy treats. This is, after all, the reason for all the fun. Open doors are often tempting for your dog who may take the opportunity to run off due to fear. Look at it from your dog’s perspective. Here are all of these alien creatures that your dog has been trying to warn you about. And you just open the door and give them tasty things that you won’t give your dog! Or your dog might be a regular escape artist who only needs the slightest opportunity to escape to freedom! You should ensure that your dog is wearing a collar or harness with a tag with your name and phone number. Your dog should also be chipped. These will ensure that your dog can be identified if he runs off and is found later.
Not all Tricksters are harmless. There are also people out in the world who think that they can use Halloween to harm animals for their own amusement. Halloween is a particularly bad time for black cats, but dogs or any other small animal is a potential victim. Keeping your dog away from the front door in a back room is the safest place for them.
Enjoy dressing up your dog and dressing up like your dog! But ensure you keep your dog safe from all the strange folk that wander about on this night. Keep them out of your Halloween treats. Their favorite way to celebrate is hanging out in the back bedroom with their own bacon treats!
I love dogs, but I must say I have never appreciated anthropomorphizing them with cutesy costumes. Just me. My current mutt would never tolerate a costume, chewing the hell out of it if given the chance. I can understand raising money through causes, though. Many animals need our help to have a humane existence.
You make a good point about how Halloween is a time to make sure your dog doesn’t have too big a problem with it. You have some useful tips
Thanks for your post. I’ll check back from time to time to see what you are up too.
Many dogs would chew their costumes. It’s another reason to be careful in treating dogs as humans.
We don’t really have the same problem here in Australia with Halloween. Folks do celebrate it but on a much smaller scale.
I love the fact that you are crazy about dogs, as I am too. I love the fact that you have put a helpline No. in your post really good thinking there.
You have covered quite a few things in this blog. The one thing I would like to stress is that dogs like being dressed up. I do not think for 1 minute that dogs like it at all. I think it is cruel. The only item of clothing my dog wears is his coat when the nights get pretty cold here in winter.
You have taken a neutral side on the doggy dressing up thing, as I am sure you too disagree.
Fantastic post about dogs and Halloween, it’s good to see.
I am so glad you care.
My daughter loves dressing up her dog for Halloween 🎃 But we live in the country and don’t get trick or treaters😉. I love the fact you put the poison control number and the warning signs 💜
I have a pug and 3 rescue Kitty’s. How many animals do you have?
I have two chihuahuas – the younger is the one in the taco suit!
Especially new dogs, if a dog doesn’t like outfits on it. It can really stress them out. Great article, glad you’re making people aware!
Nate, Yes, I have one dog who loves clothes and one who absolutely hates them.
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