9 ways to keep Halloween fun for you and your pet
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Halloween is coming up, and that means there’s a good chance you’re planning to put your pet in a costume. Last year, 16 percent of pet owners dressed up their dogs and cats for this popular “howl-iday.” Expect to see lots of pet pumpkins out there, as well as hot dogs, bumblebees, devils, lions and superheroes.
Whatever silly or spooky get-up your dog or cat will sport, now is the time to make sure Bella and Baxter wear it comfortably and happily. Here’s how to help them have a fright-free holiday.
-- Comfort comes first. Consider whether your pet enjoys playing dress-up before outfitting her as a pirate pup or cupcake kitten. If she’s outgoing and game for anything, go for it. If she’s more of a retiring type, a simple Halloween-themed bandana or collar might be a better choice than a full-on costume. Or just tell people she’s wearing her birthday suit.
-- In the same vein, check the fit. A costume should never restrict your pet’s vision, hearing, breathing or ability to move. Straps should fit without dragging on the ground or catching on fur. Adjust them so they aren’t too tight or too loose. Avoid items with buttons, bows, fringe or other features that could be chewed off and swallowed.
-- Look for a costume that’s visible in the dark. Choose one that glows, or outfit your pet with a light-up collar or leash if you plan to go trick-or-treating together.
-- Signs that your pet isn’t having a good time in his finery? Look for ears laid back, lowered head and tail, and dilated pupils. He may paw at it in an attempt to remove it. Don’t force him to wear a costume if he’s uncomfortable.
-- Will your pet be cool with costumed revelers coming to the door? If frequent knocking, ringing doorbells and strange-looking people upset him, he’ll likely be happier in a room away from all the commotion. Give him a catnip-stuffed bat or a monster chew toy to keep him occupied.
-- Got a social animal? Pets who aren’t fazed by people in costume can help you hand out goodies. Use a baby gate or other barricade in front of the door to thwart escapes. To be on the safe side, your pet’s costume should include ID tags in case she slips out. Halloween is second only to Independence Day as the most common holiday that pets become lost, says Marty Becker, DVM, founder of the Fear Free initiative.
-- Let your pet get used to seeing you in your costume, and watch her reaction to it, especially if you’re planning to wear a mask. Your sudden change of face can send her howling for the hills. Cavalier King Charles spaniel Harper Thornton barks and growls every time she sees a person in a mask, even if she watches it being put on. Your pet may be happier if you go unmasked.
-- Keep pets safe from Halloween decorations such as candles or jack-o-lanterns, not to mention all that candy. If you’re having a party, set out a bowl of treats that are safe for guests to give pets -- but ask them to limit the number they give.
-- And if your pet’s not a fan of Halloween? Turn off the porch light and settle down on the sofa together with popcorn and watch horror flicks or “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Your pet will love you for it.
for pet lovers
Q: Do you have any favorite apps or tech toys for training, playing with or protecting dogs and cats?
A: Do we ever! There are apps to help lost pets get home, devices that deliver treats remotely and more.
The Pawscout tag emits a low-energy Bluetooth radio signal. If a dog or cat designated as lost comes within 300 feet of a phone running the Pawscout app, the phone signals the person carrying it to notify the owner with the pet’s location. It works best if you ask lots of neighbors, friends and family members to install the app, increasing the likelihood of someone locating your pet with it. You can also use it to track the length of dog walks in urban areas. The tag is $19.95, with no monthly fees, and the app is free.
The Gibi tracker attaches to a collar or harness. Using the app, set up a safe zone for your dog, and the device monitors your pet’s location, notifying you by text or email if your pet leaves the safe zone. Through the app, you can then check Google Maps to pinpoint your pet’s location.
Cats are masters of relaxation, but sometimes even they need a little help to chill. The Relax My Cat app uses music specially composed for cats and offers options for different moods or events, such as playtime or bedtime, including one for separation anxiety. The Android version is free; iOS is $2.
PetCube Bites, an HD camera, allows you to see, talk to, play with and reward your pet remotely. Load it with up to 100 treats and program it to fling them up to 6 feet away. Ask your dog or cat to do tricks for treats. It’s a great way to provide play and attention, even if you’re not home. $229. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Fowl play in LA,
-- Cock-a-doodle-don’t! Los Angeles County joins other municipalities in limiting ownership of roosters in unincorporated areas. The new ordinance went into effect after authorities seized 8,000 birds last year in a cock-fighting raid. Cock-fighting aside, many towns and cities nationwide limit or ban residential roosters because of the noise they make. The new rules in LA County allow people who keep chickens to have up to 10 roosters, depending on the size of their lot. Hens are not affected by the ordinance.
-- The global trade in live parrots has contributed to the worldwide spread of psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), according to a study published in August in the journal Conservation Biology. The viral disease, reported in several wild parrot populations, has been detected in eight countries where it was previously unknown. The researchers also documented the presence of the beak and feather disease virus in wild populations of Psittacula krameri (rose-ringed parakeets) in Asia and Africa, as well as in four other species in Africa, the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Seychelles, Asia and Europe. The findings highlight the need for more effective regulation of the international parrot trade.
-- Berger Picard? He’s not a captain on a Star Trek series but a rare French herding breed known for his comic sensibility, brains and athleticism. You may be familiar with him if you saw the 2005 family flick “Because of Winn-Dixie.” The 25- to 35-pound dogs have a rough, shaggy fawn or brindle coat. Heavy eyebrows and a bearded face contribute to their comical expression. A J-shaped tail -- like a shepherd’s crook -- is a distinguishing characteristic. Expect to provide this busy dog with a job, whether that’s herding sheep, becoming involved in search-and-rescue activities or taking up a dog sport such as agility or nose work. The name? Say “bear-ZHAY pee-CARR.” -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.