Read This *Before* You Bring Your Dog Trick-or-Treating With You

Read This *Before* You Bring Your Dog Trick-or-Treating With You

It doesn’t take a pet lover to know that some of the best Halloween costumes are made specifically for pets in mind. But let’s say you and your family are planning on going trick-or-treating to mark the festivities — should you bring your dog along with you? 

Although many people enjoy getting a little scared on Halloween, the night is often stressful for dogs. Strange noises, intense costumes, and spooky decorations can worry dogs, which can lead to a host of adverse reactions, such as trying to bolt and get away or barking and lunging to keep the scary things away from them. On the whole, I recommend dog owners leave their pets safe at home on Halloween night, but if you don’t have the option or believe your dog is capable of handling the night, here are some things to keep in mind.

What kind of temperament does your dog have?

Trick-or-treating isn’t going to be right for every dog. All but the most calm, social, and confident dogs are happier, more comfortable, and safer being at home during the height of trick-or-treating on Halloween. 

Halloween is likely to be an overstimulating and stressful event for your dog if they are generally anxious or nervous about people, other dogs, or new experiences to begin with. Be especially thoughtful about how much trick-or-treating you expose a new puppy to, given that Halloween can be especially overwhelming for them. 

Let’s say your dog is extremely social and confident; enjoys meeting every dog and person; and isn’t bothered by novel situations, sounds, or sights. They may enjoy trick-or-treating with you, but keep the outing short and fun. Have dog treats easily accessible to reward your dog for good behavior, and to help them get more comfortable with any spooky decorations or costumes. Be prepared to immediately cut the festivities short at the first sign that your dog is worried, stressed, or concerned, and head home. 

How to make safety the top priority during Halloween: 

If you decide to bring your dog trick-or-treating, it’s important to always prioritize their safety while they are out. Always make sure that your dog is wearing a collar that has identification tags with updated contact information securely attached. You’ll also want to make sure that your dog is microchipped — no one wants to lose their dog, but preparing for the worst-case scenario can give you peace of mind, even if it hopefully never happens. 

To help make you and your dog visible to motorists, it can be helpful to wear reflective clothing, use a reflective leash, and/or put a light or light collar on your dog. This will help drivers and other trick-or-treaters to see you and your dog, as well as help them avoid stepping on your dog or walking into their leash. Dogs should be leashed at all times when you are out trick-or-treating for their safety and the safety of others. And while your dog might be friendly, I advise against letting your dog greet trick-or-treaters while out walking. The excitement of the night, as well as kids’ unexpected movements, costumes, and costume accessories can spook dogs and make them uncomfortable or fearful. 

One of the big safety concerns surrounding Halloween — whether or not you bring your dog trick-or-treating — is to make sure your dog doesn’t eat anything they shouldn’t. That includes costumes and accessories, chocolate and candy, and even glow sticks.

If at any point in the evening you suspect or know that your dog has eaten Halloween candy, they will need immediate treatment. Save the wrapper or packaging so you can provide an accurate list of ingredients to your vet or to poison control, and take your dog to the veterinarian or urgent care as soon as possible. You can also call the ASPCA 24/7 Pet Poison Control Hotline if you aren’t able to immediately get to the vet; though they charge a fee, they’ll be able to help you know which symptoms to keep an eye out for, and provide guidance on next steps. 

Should you dress your dog up in a costume?

Pet costumes can be cute and even punny, but no outfit or Instagram photo is worth sacrificing your dog’s comfort. If you plan on dressing your dog in a Halloween costume while trick-or-treating or at any point during Halloween, make sure your dog is okay with it — and do so sooner rather than later. 

Introduce your dog to the costume as soon as possible to make sure that they are comfortable — you’ll want to consider everything  from picking the right costume for your dog, to how to help your dog’s comfort level while they are wearing the costume. It’s also important to ensure that your dog’s costume doesn’t interfere with the fit of their collar or harness, and to monitor your dog carefully the entire time they’re wearing it. If your dog seems uncomfortable or if they are overheating in their costume at any point, take the costume off and continue walking without the costume. 

How to keep your dog cozy at home:

Though it’s likely that your home is already a cozy environment for your dog — after all, it’s their home, too! —  it’s important to make sure that your dog is going to be extra safe and comfortable if you decide to leave them at home while you’re out trick-or-treating or otherwise celebrating Halloween. 

Create a safe space in an area of your home that is as far away from doors and windows as possible; this will help shield your dogs from the sights and sounds of the holiday, and keep them away from trick-or-treaters who may be knocking on your door. It can also be helpful to walk your dog while it’s still light out, and well before the Halloween festivities really take off. This will help you to be on the lookout for any discarded candies or candy wrappers, so you can keep your dog from trying to eat them. 

Overall, it’s important to never leave your dog outside alone on Halloween — even in your fenced yard. If your dog usually has access to the outdoors, whether through a doggy door or an open entryway, block that access off for this night. You want to prevent your dog from being startled by Halloween festivities in your neighborhood. Even calm and well-adjusted dogs can go over or under fences out of fear, and it’s better to keep your dog safe at home than run any sort of risk.

Sassafras Lowrey

Contributor

Sassafras Lowrey is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) and award winning author of fiction and nonfiction books about LGBTQ people and/or dogs living in Portland, Oregon. You can keep up with Sassafras on Twitter/Instagram @SassafrasLowrey and www.SassafrasLowrey.com

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These Are the Most Popular Pet Halloween Costumes in the U.S.

These Are the Most Popular Pet Halloween Costumes in the U.S.

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Halloween is creeping up fast, and you may already have your Halloween costume in the bag, but what about your four-legged friend’s spooky season outfit?

Money.co.uk recently conducted a study to find the most popular Halloween costume for pets in 2021, looking at Google Trends and search volume to reveal America’s favorite creepy costume for animal companions.

One costume that’s worth considering for your pet this year is Yoda, with the costume receiving nearly 111,000 Google searches since the start of January. Baby Yoda has made its way into the homeware space—think waffle makers, night lights, and even Instant Pots—so it was only a matter of time before the super cute character transitioned over to the pet world.

The second favorite Halloween costume for pets in the U.S. is a spider, with just over 99,000 searches. This popular costume is already popping up among the celebrity crowd, with Hailey Bieber taking to Instagram stories earlier this week to share a snap of her pup dressed as a spider.

“Spooky SZN is upon us” the model captioned the photo, which shows her pooch looking less than impressed (but oh so cute) in the spider costume.

With plenty of eight-legged dog costumes out there, like this Walmart pick, you can easily transform your pet into a spooky spider this Halloween.

Wanna play? Placing third on the list is Chucky, receiving almost 89,000 searches for pet costumes since the start of the year.

Chucky has been a popular pick for Halloween fans since the release of “Child’s Play” in 1988, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. In 2019, actress Eva Longoria shared a snap of her dog, Popeye, dressed as the character, while this French Bulldog went viral as it ran down a hallway wearing a similar costume.

If you fancy dressing your pup up as the iconic demon doll, this Amazon costume has hundreds of five-star reviews.

Also appearing on the list are lion costumes with 78,800 searches, and Batman, which received 67,220 searches.

What costume will your pet be wearing this Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!

How Expensive Is Getting a Dog, Really? A Trainer Weighs In

How Expensive Is Getting a Dog, Really? A Trainer Weighs In

Dogs are a person’s best friend, but that friendship can often come at a price. From treats and toys to food and vet visits, taking proper care of your dog is filled with both predictable and surprise expenses. 

In 2020, Americans spent a new record of $103.6 billion on their pets and pet-related supplies, a March 2021 report by the American Pet Products Association noted, a 6.7 percent increase from 2019. Two of the biggest expenditures for pet owners last year were food and treats, as well as vet care: pet owners spent $42 billion to feed their furry friends, and $31.4 billion making sure they stayed healthy. If you’re considering adding a dog to your home there are some substantial upfront and ongoing costs to keep in mind.

How much does it cost to get a dog?

There’s no getting around it: dogs are going to be expensive. The first and generally the smallest cost associated with having a dog is the initial cost, whether that’s the adoption fee you pay to a shelter or rescue, or the purchase fee from a responsible breeder, which can generally cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 or more. (The puppies available for sale at pet stores are generally from puppy mills, otherwise known as individuals or facilities that produce large numbers of puppies for profit, without regard for the health or quality of life of the parents or puppies. Experts generally agree you should not give these companies your business.)

If you are looking into getting a puppy from a breeder, look for what the ASPCA calls responsible breeders, who are dedicated to bettering the health and temperament of their breed and “provide their dogs with a high quality of care.” You can read more about this criteria on the ASPCA’s website, and ask any potential breeder how they adhere to these standards before you give them your business. And as the American Kennel Club notes, “a responsible breeder is someone who is willing to talk to you and answer questions you have, whether you’ve already committed to purchasing a puppy or not.  They are there for you and the puppy whether the puppy is 5 months, 5 years or 13 years old.”     

The cost associated with rescuing a dog from a shelter or private rescue group will differ depending on what area of the country you live in; the age of the dog or puppy, which often have a higher adoption fee; and the size of the dog. (Small dogs often have a higher adoption fee in urban areas.) The cost of adoption from the rescues or shelters in your area may vary, but fees can range from $75 to upwards of $450. 

Should you get your dog health insurance? 

Pet insurance has become increasingly popular in recent years. For some people, insurance is a way to save money long-term; depending on your income level, you may find you are more comfortable putting the money you would spend on deductibles into a separate savings account to cover future vet bills.

Many pet insurance plans have clauses that take pre-existing conditions into account. Insurance rates will also consider a dog’s age and breed when determining rates. Be sure to research each company, plan, and any fine-print closely before purchasing to make sure you understand the deductibles, out-of-pocket fees, and exclusions. 

Personally, I opt to create a savings account dedicated to my dogs’ health, and the foresight has been extremely helpful during stressful times. In the past three years, I’ve spent well over $13,000 out of pocket for orthopedic surgery and professional physical therapy rehabilitation for my youngest dog, and even more in palliative care, acupuncture, and physical therapy for my two senior dogs before they passed away. This was the more financially prudent choice for my family than canine health insurance would have been, but everyone’s personal budget will look different. 

Costs to Consider Before Getting a Dog:

“When it comes to the financial aspect of dog ownership, prospective owners should consider the costs of routine veterinary care, food, grooming, toys, treats, boarding and dog walking if those are things you may utilize, and emergency care,” Brandi Hunter Munden, the Vice President of Communications & Public Relations of the American Kennel Club, tells Apartment Therapy. If you rent your home in a pet-friendly building, you’ll want to do research into any potential building costs, such as a monthly “pet rent” fee, additional security deposit, or one-time pet fee.

There will also be ongoing costs associated with keeping your dog well groomed, healthy, and happy. These costs will differ depending on where you live, but these are just some general estimates to help with budgeting, based on my experience living and working with dogs in major cities on both the east and west coasts.

Just like the food humans eat, quality dog food can help prevent food-related allergies and other health conditions. Depending on the size of your dog and the food brand you select, you’ll likely be paying between $25 to $70 per month in dog food and treats. Larger and more active dogs eat more food than smaller and more sedentary dogs, so take this into account if you’re still deciding which breed is right for you.

This will be dependent on your dog’s size, as well as how playful they are. Generally, you can look to spend between $10 to $30+ monthly on toys. 

$20 to $200+, depending on the size of bed, and whether the bed is orthopedic. The bed’s quality of materials can also impact this price.

Leashes, Collars, and Harnesses 

$50 to 150+, depending on your dog’s size, the quality of materials, and how often you need to replace each piece. If you have a growing puppy, you can expect to replace the collar or harness a few times over the course of their growth.  

$130 to $400 per series of classes, which can cover everything from basic obedience and behavior modification, to separation anxiety and more. Most classes last between four and six weeks in length. There are also options for private one-on-one support, if your dog has certain behavioral needs, the classes in the area don’t align with your schedule, or you’re looking for specialized support.  

Dogs should at minimum have their nails clipped monthly. If you aren’t comfortable trimming your dog’s nails at home, the service will generally cost $15 at the groomer. Full service grooming usually begins at $40 or small dogs and can be over $80 for large dogs.

Around $350 annual for quality flea/tick and heartworm prevention medication. This medication can only be obtained via prescription so your dog will need to be under the regular care of a veterinarian. 

Dogs should at minimum receive annual veterinary visits, vaccinations, heartworm tests, and fecal exams. Each visit will likely cost between $250 to 400 but will increase if your dog hasn’t yet been spayed or neutered, or if your dog gets sick and your vet has to run tests or prescribe medications accordingly.

Dog Walking and/or Sitting

Depending on your schedule and lifestyle you may need to hire a dog walker or a dog sitter to care for your dog while you are at work or when you travel. Dog walking often costs around $25 per visit (sometimes bulk package options are available if you will use a walker regularly). Dog boarding, or a dog sitter coming to stay with your dog will generally cost between $50 and $150 per day.

Are some dogs more expensive than others? 

As you research what kind of dog is right for your lifestyle and family, you might hear stories about how some dogs have more health issues than others. “There are certainly reasons why some breeds will be more expensive to care for than others,” Munden explains. “Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds, so you’ll end up spending money for a longer amount of time. Large-breed dogs eat more, therefore making your total cost of food more.” 

Some breeds of dogs, as well as dogs whose heritage includes those breeds, are more prone to certain health conditions including allergies and cancer, and orthopedic conditions like hip dysplasia. Make sure to research each breed’s health, so that you can budget for any potential health issues that may need to be factored into your financial plan. You can also ask your prospective vet if you have any questions about a specific breed, and how well-equipped that office is to care for a breed’s specific needs.

Similarly, dogs with medium-length or long coats will need more extensive grooming; if you’re not up for the task of learning how to DIY that treatment regularly, you’ll need to hire a professional to do it for you.

Ultimately, there are no guarantees about how much a dog will or won’t cost to care for over the course of their lifetime. For example, one dog I rescued might have had a relatively low adoption fee, but ultimately was one of the most expensive dogs I’ve ever had when it came to ongoing veterinary care needs. Although research into breeds can help you get an idea of what some common expenses for dogs of that breed might be, there will always be unexpected costs when it comes to living with dogs.

What are low-income pet care options? 

If you recently lost your job, don’t make a lot of money, or if funds are tight for any reason, there are options to help you make sure that your dog can access veterinary care. Local humane societies will often have options for low- or no-cost spay and neuter clinics, and some veterinary clinics, humane societies, and nonprofit groups will sponsor low-cost clinics in local communities to keep dogs updated on required vaccinations for rabies. 

Some hospitals and clinics have application-based charity options for owners who can demonstrate an inability to pay for emergency veterinary care; these are not guaranteed, and it’s important to know what your plan B is about an emergency vet bill before adopting your pet. For dog owners who are financially struggling or have hit hard times, The Humane Society of the United States maintains a national database of resources and advice for people who are struggling to financially care for their dogs.

Sassafras Lowrey

Contributor

Sassafras Lowrey is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) and award winning author of fiction and nonfiction books about LGBTQ people and/or dogs living in Portland, Oregon. You can keep up with Sassafras on Twitter/Instagram @SassafrasLowrey and www.SassafrasLowrey.com

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This Stylish Dog Accessory Makes Picking Up After Your Pooch So Much Easier

This Stylish Dog Accessory Makes Picking Up After Your Pooch So Much Easier

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

When you’re a pet parent, doody happens. That’s just the price of love. But nothing’s worse than struggling to get a single poop bag out of the holder while also trying to hold onto the leash. Sometimes you stand there for way too long trying to find the perforation between bags, and other times the entire roll goes flying while you’re fumbling around in the dark, in the rain, or in the snow (the worst!). Thankfully, Fable just came out with a sleek solution that makes picking up after your fur baby quicker, easier, and far less cumbersome.

Fable’s stylish Waste Bag Holder has silicone straps and a lightweight hard plastic shell that accommodates rolls of 45 bags, while the cap twists off so you can reload bags when empty. It also secures the roll inside the holder, so you don’t have to go digging around to fish out the last bag. Dual attachment points secure it snugly to any leash, D-ring, or Fable’s Magic Link, so the holder won’t bounce all over the place on vigorous walks or runs. And if it needs a cleaning, simply use a damp cloth.

But here’s where it gets better: “The holder has a built-in perforation tab, which allows me to separate individual bags with one hand while holding on to my (very energetic) pitty Jet’s leash in the other hand,” says commerce editor Danielle St. Pierre, who tested the Fable Waste Bag holder.  “The straps make it easy to sling over my wrist or attach directly to Jet’s leash without adding a ton of extra weight to our walks.” Although it is compatible with any poop bags, Fable waste bags makes cleanup even easier.

Fable’s Waste Bag Holder retails for $35 and is available in five neutral (and super cute) colorways: Slate, Green, Blush, Light Blue, and Black. Who knew picking up dog poop could look so chic?

Buy: Fable Waste Bag Holder, $35