People, it seems, love to dress up their dogs, and to a lesser extent, cats. An adult replacement for dolls perhaps? And dressing your dog as a fairy or witch can be pretty darn cute (or funny). However, with less than a week before Halloween, if your pet isn’t already acclimated to their costume, it’s a little late to start. Many animals panic when they have something wrapped around them – it feels like they are trapped! And you might think it’s hysterical when your cat is running through the house chased by a dragging cape but believe me, she’s not having any fun! Get your pet used to wearing a costume a little at a time and have plenty of treats handy to use as rewards. Which means if you’re just starting today, you may be lucky enough to get just one photo snapped before she wiggles out of the outfit. Next year start earlier!
Besides costumes, Halloween has other tricks in store for unsuspecting pets – and pet owners. Be sure all your furry family members are safely inside before the witches and goblins (and superheroes and princesses, etc.) hit the street trick or treating. It's amazing how reactive even the best dog can be when confronted by a zombie and you don’t want to risk someone being hurt or your pet being scared away.
To be completely safe that no one sneaks out, it’s a good idea to lock your pets in a bedroom while the door is being opened frequently. You don’t want to set off your dog’s guard instincts if he thinks the goblins are too threatening! And you certainly don’t want your cat slipping out the door between the ballerinas and action heroes. Of course, all your pets are microchipped and wearing ID tags, just in case, right? You do know that we offer both free to RP and City of Cotati residents, don’t you? Bring your pets by during our regular hours (Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30) to get them, no appointment necessary!
Don’t trust that your dog will recognize the werewolf as the child next door – he might not! Children don’t always realize how scary even a pretty costume (with capes, twirly skirts, magic wands and hats) can be to an animal and get upset if the pet acts afraid of them. Masks that prevent good eye contact are especially frightening to dogs, so protect everyone by keeping them separated and not taking chances.
Don’t forget that chocolate contains theobromine, an ingredient that is poisonous for our pets if consumed in large quantities. Make sure your stash of goodies - both the bowl that is by your front door to hand out to trick or treaters, and the bags that your children bring home after going door to door - is safely out of reach of furry mouths. Even if your pet doesn’t eat enough to be life threatening you don’t want to deal with the vomiting and diarrhea that the sugar and caffeine causes.
A little precaution and planning can help make this a safe holiday – full of treats and fun!
Bark After Dark – tickets are going fast! Join us in the dog-gone best fundraiser around and support the Animal Shelter League’s life-saving medical fund and other proactive animal-assistance programs in our community. Bark after Dark is an Italian dinner and silent/live auction on Nov. 2, 6:30-10 p.m. at the RP Community Center. Advanced tickets are just $35/person and are available at animalshelterleaguerp.org or at the shelter. Hope you will support this live-saving fundraiser!
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.