Category Archives: Raising a Healthy Dog

Welcome Home Murphy: How to Dog Prep Your Home

Dog prep your home.Murphy, a young Black Labrador and Dachshund mix, joined our family in November and settled right in but before he arrived, we had work to do to dog prep our home.

We lost our English Bulldog in November, 2016, to lung cancer.  She was only 8 and her passing was difficult. As we recovered from her loss, we cleaned out all her toys and belongings. When I knew that Murphy would be joining us, I had work to do.  Since we didn’t know how our new dog would behave, several steps were necessary and if you are planning to add a new dog or puppy to your family, perhaps these tips will help dog prep your home.

Dog Proof Your Home

Decide which rooms your dog will be allowed to access. Then go through each room looking for potential dangers. Get down on your knees if possible, so you can see the room at the level your new pet will see.

Look for exposed electrical cords. I know from experience that dogs and cats enjoy chewing on computer cables and cell phone cords. Find a way to hide them all from view and from access.

Block the dog’s access to rooms where he won’t be welcome. You can find baby safety gates here. I ordered 2 gates to block off our guest room to keep it clean and ready for company and the laundry room, because  the cats’ litter box resides there. If your new pet is a puppy, you may want a gate to prevent him from climbing any stairs.

Rid Your Home of Toxic Materials

If you don’t already use environmentally safe cleaning products, consider a change now. Your new dog will walk on the floors you just cleaned and then probably lick its paws. Be safe and choose cleaning products that won’t harm your pets.

Stock Up on Dog Supplies

If your new pet is a puppy, purchase a crate to use from day 1. If the dog is an adult, ask his owner or someone from the shelter where you get him if he is crate-trained. Some adult dogs won’t easily adjust to a crate and some will never do so. There are puppies that suffer from claustrophobia, and you won’t be able to crate train them but try. You life will be much easier if he learns to love his crate.  Choose a crate that allows an adult dog to stand and turn around. For puppies, think ahead to the size he will be when grown and buy accordingly.

Every dog needs his own bed. I don’t recommend spending a lot on bedding because puppies and even some adult dogs will chew up and destroy the bedding. We lined Murphy’s crate with 2 thick folded blankets and a baby pillow for extra softness because that was all I could find on short notice. Murphy is a chewer and once he grows out of his current chewing stage, I’ll probably find a more suitable dog bed for him.

You will want to buy 2 bowls for your dog – for food and water – and perhaps a washable mat to sit them on. Stainless steel or pottery bowls are best. Dogs often suffer a skin breakout, rather like acne, if they eat from plastic containers on a regular basis.

Dogs need appropriate collars and leashes. Talk to an experienced sales person at a pet store to help you make the best choices. Murphy needs some training because he has a bad habit of jumping on people and other dogs. He arrived with the leashes needed but I did purchase a special nylon, padded collar for training. Here is a video that shows you how to choose a collar for your dog.

Your new fur-baby needs toys to play with. Choose wisely. Select a Nylabone Original in the correct size for your dog. Those are safer than the other bone types of chew toys on the market. I found the best prices here.

Kong® makes a toy that can be stuffed with treats and they come in all sizes. Unless your new dog is a small animal that doesn’t destroy toys, watch carefully when he plays with less sturdy toys. He could break off and swallow small pieces that could get lodged in his throat or intestines.

The most important purchase you make for your new dog is food. Please read the information on our site before you shop to be sure your dog receives healthy pet food.

Preparing for your new dog will get your pet started off on the right “paw” and on the way to becoming a valued member of your family.

What You Need to Know about Dog Vaccinations

dog vaccinationsThe topic of dog vaccinations produces a multitude of opinions in dog owners and canine professionals. Some believe firmly that all dogs should receive all the vaccinations required by law, as well as a few suggested tones. Others prefer their pets to receive titer tests to determine whether or not their dogs even need certain injections. The subject, while controversial, is one all pet owners should study and then decide for themselves which vaccinations best work for their dogs.

Each state has its own requirements, so be sure to confirm canine laws where you live. Said laws also depend on the animal’s age. Your veterinarian is the best person to guide you. However, in my 45 years of pet ownership, only once has a veterinarian suggested to me that a vaccine might not be necessary…that my pet could receive a titer test first to determine immunity.

Vaccinations are important for dogs and puppies.

Puppies should receive the core vaccines. Core vaccines include Rabies, canine parvo virus, distemper and canine hepatitis and all dogs should receive those preventative innoculations, because the diseases can kill both puppies and dogs if they are not immunized.

Non-Core vaccines are somewhat optional and circumstances in the dog’s life should determine if he receives the vaccination. For example, if a you live in an area where there are a lot of cases of a particular disease, you might want your pet vaccinated to avoid that one. Bordatella (also known as Kennel Cough) would be necessary in certain conditions, although it isn’t considered a Core vaccine. If you plan to board your dog at a kennel, all reputable kennels require proof of innoculation against Bordatella. If your pet plays at a dog park with other animals, vaccinating him for Bordatella might be a good idea.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect canines with access to standing water. Even standing puddles of water can harbor the bacteria. The Lepto vaccine is a non-core vaccination, but many veterinarians recommend it. Years ago, my Blue Great Dane Coby was just 9 weeks old and ready for his second set of vaccinations. My wonderful mobile vet, Dr. Janet Childs, came to our home and did her job and left. Fortunately, we had a visitor that day who was cuddling my puppy after his veterinary exam and injections. Nancy was an RN and observant about canine health. Shortly after the vet left, she noticed that Coby’s gums were turning blue. We called the vet immediately and she returned to give our fur-baby an injection to counter-act his obvious negative reaction to his vaccinations. It was later determined that he reacted to the Leptospirosis vaccine. Dr. Childs said at the time that she would rather treat the disease than go through that scary experience again. Coby never received another Lepto vaccination. However, our other dogs prior to Coby had no problem with it. Our pets were never boarded at a kennel, so we also chose not to vaccinate for Bordatella. Each dog is different and you have to decide what is best for your pet. Just be sure to include your veterinarian in the discussion.

Non-Core vaccines include protection from Bordatella, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) and Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria responsible for Lyme Disease in canines. The vaccines are not always effective in preventing these diseases than are the Core vaccines.

dog vaccinations

Dogs are like humans in that they need certain vaccinations to ward off diseases that could be life-threatening. According to pets.webmd.com, “vaccines help the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms.”

Make your decisions regarding said vaccines based on your dog’s breed, where and how your dog lives, and the opinion of your veterinarian.

 

How to Calm a Fearful Dog

The Fourth of July holiday is approaching and while that may mean picnics, fireworks and fun for us humans, this time of year can bring terror to the hearts of our dogs.  Plus, some dogs suffer from various forms of anxiety. Such phobias make them difficult to live with and cause them great suffering. In fact, a recent study found that over 29% of all dogs “suffer from at least one anxiety or fear issue.”  That’s nearly 23 million dogs in the United States alone. (Pet Age Magazine, April, 2016. p.56)  And 16% of all dogs suffer from multiple anxiety or fear issues.

Finding a solution for these fears is challenging.  I admit that we never did find it with our big Weimaraner who was afraid of everything, yet, there are many products on the market that can help with most dogs.  I always recommend that pet owners begin with their veterinarians. That professional will have a better idea of the problems and potential solutions.  Perhaps the most popular item with dogs is the Thunder Shirt.  This “vest” fits around the animal’s chest and is sold for both dogs and cats. Many pet owners swear by this product.  It applies a gentle, continuous pressure that comforts the animal.  I like the fact that is drug-free and not expensive.

Determining the cause of your pet’s anxieties is the place to begin. Sometimes, simply holding and petting your dog will ease it’s fears.  Other dogs need exercise to work off their anxiousness.  Each animal is different, so it is important to know what brings on the stress and anxiety. I found with Gator that giving him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter kept his mind busy for quite awhile and kept him out of trouble when we were away from home.

It helps to know the symptoms of canine fearfulness.  Our Gator would pant and pace the floors when he was nervous. Sometimes, this 95 lb. giant Weimaraner would try to climb into my lap for comfort.  Do whatever it takes to keep them calm.

Some dogs release their fears through aggressive behavior.  Again, your veterinary professional and even a dog trainer can help with this problem. Companies now produce muzzles that are softer and more comfortable for dogs to wear, should that become necessary.

Other options are products that release certain pheromones that work to calm the animal. Some are collars and some are plug-ins for your home. There are also calming treats on the market but I would caution you to only try the all-natural ones.  As a last resort, your veterinarian can prescribe a mild tranquilizer that may work to de-stress a dog.

Finally, please be aware that your pet picks up on your own anxious behavior. If you are a high-strung, nervous type, your dog most likely will pattern that trait.  Work to display a calmer demeanor around your pet and that may result in a calmer dog.

On this upcoming holiday weekend, pay close attention to your dogs.  Find a quiet room for them to rest in and stay with them when you can to calm their fears of the noisy fireworks.

 

 

Choose a Dog that Fits Your Life Stage and Style

WEB.PICS2 Dogs are wonderful companions and make our lives so much better. But choosing the wrong breed or size or temperament could create a nightmare instead of a loving pet, and it won’t be the dog’s fault. Sometimes, people see a particular breed of dog and immediately want to own one.  They don’t always think about the consequences that could go along with that animal. For example when the movie, “101 Dalmations” was re-issued by Disney, everyone wanted a Dalmation.  Dalmations are lovely dogs but not for everyone.  Same with Chihuahuas. Cute dogs but they can be snappy with children and children could play too rough with such a small animal.  People adopt trendy animals and when they eventually realize that particular breed doesn’t really work for their lifestyle, the poor animal ends up in a shelter.

What about grooming needs. Do you mind the hassle of taking your dog to a groomer every 2-3 weeks? Can you take care of the trimming yourself?  Be sure you can afford to invest in quality grooming tools before you choose a breed such as the Poodle that requires such specialty grooming.

Our family always owned large dogs. We had 6 children, 4 of them active, athletic boys.  A small dog would not have stood a chance in our house.  Over the years, we were blessed with 3 Great Danes, all of whom were wonderful pets with active children.  Yes, we could have chosen a somewhat smaller breed but families with children should think twice before bringing home a feisty, snappy breed of dog.

Danes are also good house dogs, if properly raised. However, as my husband and I grew older, we realized that such large animals require a lot of physical effort to raise, train and control. We made the decision not to get another giant breed when our Coby died at age 7 from bone cancer.  It only took a month before my then daughter-in-law gifted me with an adorable Weimaraner puppy. Weimaraners are generally medium-sized dogs, but our Gator grew to be the size of a female Great Dane!  We learned that as wonderful as our pet was, he presented a handful for two people approaching 60.

Large dogs may also cost more to leave with a kennel while you are on vacation.  Oh, it will go with you?  Can you truly see that Great Dane sharing a car for many miles?  Will airlines carry such a large animal or do they have height and weight requirements?

WEB.PICS3

Before choosing your next dog, give serious thought to what type of pet would best fit your family and lifestyle.  If your family is young with children, choose a breed known to love kids.  A dog that is not to0 large but not tiny either might work best.  An animal known for good temperament is important for noisy, active children.

On the other hand, if your family is past the young child stage and you understand and are ok with the fact that large dogs could be more difficult to bathe and cost more in food, supplies and veterinary care, perhaps a giant breed would be the perfect pet for your family.

Do you want a lap dog?  Obviously, a smaller breed would be most suitable for that purpose. One of our Great Danes thought she was a lap dog and while that was funny, it quickly became uncomfortable, and Ginny had to learn there were places she could not go.

If you are older, consider the weight of a larger breed. Will you find weekly baths to be painful for you? Will the process of training a larger dog be too much?  Can you afford the expenses involved? Small dogs are easier to care for and don’t cost as much to feed.

WEB.PICS1

How about exercise?  Are you able to provide the exercise an active pup needs?  For some breeds, like Australian Shepherds, a daily walk about the block may not be enough.  Consider the exercise needs of your breed of choice.

Once you have decided on the type of dog you want, know that this is a commitment for the life of the animal. It should become an important part of your family, never to be abandoned for any reason.

Just a Dog

By Maggie Digiovanni

You said I was “just a dog.”
Do you know what that means?
It means you think my feelings
are less than other creatures.
It means my needs do not
matter as much as yours.

I cannot ever think of you
as “just a human.”
You are my human of all
the humans in the world.
You are my friend above
all other friends I may have.

To be “just a dog” lessens
me in your and other people’s eyes.
It takes away my individuality
and the joy I have in loving you.
It sets me aside in your life
instead of making me a vital part.

No matter what I might feel
or think or do, you are special.
You are not “just a….” anything.
You are my reason for living.
You are extraordinary to me
in every possible way.

Please, do not make our
friendship less, dear human.
Please make me your dog
and let others know my place
in your life is to be closer
than any other animal.

Please, dear human, always
know I am and will always be
your dog, your friend, your
protector, your playmate,
yours in good times and bad,
because that is what I do and am.

Budget Conscious Pet Care

MAGGIE.BUBBYBITZ

 

That old saying, “a good offense is the best defense,” holds true when caring for  your pets on a budget.  Practicing preventive care can actually save money in the long run.

Sometimes we wonder if those once or twice yearly vet visits are really necessary, but there are good reasons that veterinarians recommend them. Although many veterinary professionals are moving away from insisting on annual vaccinations for every possible disease, there remain several core vaccines that dogs and cats should receive regularly. On those visits, your veterinarian will examine your pet for any changes in its body since the last visit.  Notice that he or she records those findings in the animal’s chart for easy reference on future appointments. The notations are important steps in diagnosing future problems.

 

CAT.BOOKS.PICS.MAGGIE.SPEGAL

“Maggie” owned by Barb Spegal

 

Barb Spegal's "Rascal"

Barb Spegal’s “Rascal”

 

Having your pet tested for heartworm and other parasitic diseases is important for both the animal’s health and yours.  Providing heartworm preventatives is another important part of protecting your pet from future problems.  Heartworm preventatives are sold by prescription only and your vet will not write that prescription without the proper test being given first. Those monthly heartworm preventatives (such as Heartguard®) protect your pet from acquiring that deadly condition. The heartworms, once in your pet’s system, can be difficult and very expensive to treat and eradicate. Make sure to provide the monthly preventative instead.

You don’t have to purchase these preventatives from your veterinary clinic.  There are online services that may sell it to you at much lower prices.  But you will still need your vet to test your pet first.  An online service will contact the veterinarian you list to get the prescription ok.

Dental care on a regular basis will save money in the future. Get your dog or cat used to daily brushing of its teeth from the beginning.  Always offer a treat after the brushing so the animal associates that effort with something good to follow.  Gum disease and abscessed teeth are painful and expensive to fix.

You can save money by grooming your dog or cat at home. Trimming toenails isn’t difficult to master.  Look for videos online so you feel more comfortable tackling this task.  Bathe your pet often to eliminate odor and dirt.  Some dogs do just fine with once-a-month baths, while others require more frequent bathing.  Long-haired dogs and cats do need more frequent care.

Brush your dog or cat frequently.  If the animal has long hair, daily brushing may be necessary. If not, then weekly brushing periods should work.

Check your pet often for fleas and ticks. If he is on a preventative, they shouldn’t be a problem, but some dogs seem to get them anyway.  And some flea/tick preventatives seem to stop working after a time.  We noticed that with our Maggie. A popular brand that had worked on her for years just stopped. She was getting fleas on her body, even with the monthly treatments.  Changing brands took care of the problem.

Some articles I have read tell you that you can feed your dog or cat any commercial food as long as the package says it is “complete and balanced” or contains “total nutrition.”  That is just not so. Any pet food, no matter how poor, is allowed to be sold with those distinctions if it meets the AAFCO standards.  Those standards are easy to meet.  Look under the BARKS & MEOWS page on this website for a simple guide to help  you shop for healthy dog or cat food.

Remember that your pet doesn’t need designer duds or fancy bejeweled collars and leashes to be happy and healthy.  Make your own pet toys and save a bundle. Buy sturdy, basic dog collars and leashes that will last.

Keep in mind one thing: Spend money on quality veterinary care and quality pet food to save money down the road.

How to Check Your Dog for Ticks by Monica Gomez

Editor’s Note:  Tick season is just around the corner for many parts of the United States and is year around where I live.  The following information about removing ticks from your pet was submitted by Monica Gomez. Credit for the Infographic goes to http://carrington.edu.

Your dog is your best friend in the world, and the last thing you want for your best friend to become gravely ill. As this tick removal guide by Carrington.edu highlights, many infectious canine diseases are fully preventable — all that is needed is a daily tick check, or better yet, a thorough check whenever your canine buddy spends time in long grass.

Regular tick checks not only prevent your dog from dealing with one of nature’s most pesky insects, they also keep worrisome illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and canine anaplasmosis at bay. Tick checks are very easy to conduct, so there’s really no excuse not to inspect your furry companion on a regular basis to prevent dangerous infections.

 

How to Check for Ticks

 

Piddling Pup Goes Blind

Chewy, is a piddling pup, who did nothingchewy but piddle all day when he first arrived at our home. More seriously, he had cataracts. They were not terrible when he came to live with us, but over the past three years, he has steadily moved toward blindness.

He has always been a funny little guy. When the woman brought him to our door, she told me, “He yodels.” Sure, I thought, and my other dog talks like a parrot. As it turned out, he could not stand being alone and the weird I-I-I-I-I that rose and fell when forced to be without a companion for even a moment, stunned me at first.

This oddity lasted only until he accepted that he was home, loved and could count on us being there the next morning when he awakened. He replaced it with a happy bark when any one of us came home. Later, he added a sharp yelp of warning if the doorbell rang or someone knocked.

All through this, a gradual change overcame his ability to walk around the house. When we moved to a new home, he seemed to bump into things. Maybe we did not want to recognize the problem headed our way. Maybe we feared what would happen if he did go blind.

The last year brought the biggest change. For a while, he bounded over the yard if I called. That changed to bounding a few steps before looking around in confusion. Gradually he stopped bounding unless I ran beside him, leading the way. Going out at night upset him since his limited vision did not always reach to the lighted porch. We began making changes to accommodate.

A few people thought putting him down might be more convenient for me. Angrily I ask if it would be more convenient for the little dog that brought us joy, even when he was terrified in a new home. Would it be kinder to toss him out in the street, because, gosh, that would certainly be more convenient for me? NO and a resounding no.

My brother, my daughter and I are in one accord in making his life as happy as possible during this trying time. After all, we found a solution for the urination problem by using bellybands. So, how hard could it be to help him now?

We walk out with him in the unfenced front yard because before we realized how bad his eyes had gotten, he meandered into the woods behind the house. How he rubbed his head against me and yelped with joy to be found! In unfamiliar places, he is always on leash. In the house, I have ceased being a compulsive furniture rearranger because he cannot keep up with the moody move of the week.

At night, he cannot go out without one of us, even in the back yard. So far, he has measured the distance, via going around the coffee table on the porch, checking one side of a chair that is blocked with a huge flowerpot and eventually finding the opening between the chairs before going down the steps.

I added a much-needed railing on the back porch when he almost stepped off it before I caught him at the last moment. At first, the railing puzzled him, but it is now in his equation of finding the steps.

I watch to make certain he takes no misstep going down and to be ready to help him find the porch again. At night, he walks just past the porch, turns left until he finds the fence, turns left until he finds the corner, turns left until he finds the hosepipe which lays between him and the steps. Only when I call, “Chooch, laMooch” does he dare to cross the obstacle and gain purchase on the lower step.

Sometimes his back legs refuse to rise to the occasion. I gather him in my arms and take him to the living room where he snuggles beside me on the sofa.

One place he can find, whether sighted or not, especially when my brother is cooking, is the kitchen. Without a sound, he positions himself directly behind the chef and waits quietly for the gentle words, “GET THIS DOG OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” He realizes at that time perhaps he is in the wrong place. He returns, via his taxi – me, to the sofa to await whatever treat might make its way from the other room. You see, my brother is a big old softie who feels it necessary to apologize to Chewy for getting upset. That usually means a taste or two of the meat meant for our supper in way of begging forgiveness.

During the night, the dogs do a ballet of beds and the clicking of nails across the floor awakens me. Each demands its turn beside me and, alas, there is but one dog bed in that position. One by one, they move from that one to the one behind it to the one on the other side of the bed. Chewy loses the battle most nights. I will get up to find he has run into the desk chair or the trunk at the end of the bed and gotten no further. I lift him and put him in whatever bed is available. This plays out about three times each night. Being popular can be a hard task, but hey, my senior pups are so worth it.

Yes, Chewy is going blind. That’s okay. It does not make him any less a wonderful pet. It does not make his life any less valuable. It simply changes some of the dynamics of our lives. Isn’t change a good thing?

A Piddling Pup

 

piddling pup one

 

 

He didn’t look like much. A scruffy combination of what appeared to be Scottish terrier and a silky terrier. The longish body and massive teeth definitely came from the Scotty while the weirdly soft hair on the top of his head could only have arrived from the Silky. He definitely needed a loving hand and heart as a foster parent and our home became his.

Happiness reigned for roughly ten minutes until his very apparent flaw flowed from his small body as a pool of piddle. A few minutes later, he repeated the act and again a short time later. When I was foolish enough to leave the home for an hour and he decided to get acquainted with my other elderly pup, I arrived home to find a very real pissing contest that took place around a dining table.

I immediately called the foster center with the sad news that I absolutely, positively could not foster this particular dog because of the constant urinating. Yes, the lady who delivered him said he had a slight problem. That was not the term I used to describe my house being afloat within two hours after his arrival.

“I’m so sorry to hear that. Of course, I understand and we will take him back. We had high hopes as you are his last chance at a foster home. He will go to a shelter.”

“Well, I’ve gotten my other dogs from the shelters here and they are pretty nice. It’s not like they are kill shelters.”

“Oh, he didn’t come from your area. He traveled over fifty miles to get to you. I cannot guarantee a no kill shelter with his record of being unadoptable.”

So I did what any sane person would avoid…I adopted Chewy. A trip to a pet shop never visited on my rounds before and, low and behold, the answer to Chewy’s problem appeared. It did not have a halo glowing around it.

It was a belly band for male dogs. One piece of material four inches wide and three inches longer than his belly measurement, attached to soft felt of the same measurements, a heart sewn in the center to hold the shape of the band and a fluffy pad to be inserted into it to stop those ‘mistakes’.

belly bands

 

I changed the pad to one geared for incontinence in men. It holds more and seems more comfortable for Chewy.

He’s resting calmly beside me, follows me wherever I go, comes at my call and usually only my call. And piddling pup or not, he has a forever home. Often with our older dogs – male or female, the answer is simple. It just takes looking for a solution instead of being stumped by the problem.

Piddling Pup2

                                                   PIDDLING PUP TODAY – CAN YOU SEE THE BELLY BAND?

Don’t Contribute to Pet Overpopulation

The biggest challenge in the animal rescue world today is educating people about spay/neuter. For whatever reason, far too many pet owners fail to understand how important this surgery is to the well-being of their dog or cat, not to mention the problem of pet overpopulation.

Shelters across the United States are full of unwanted pets that owners failed to spay or neuter. When the animals become intact adults, problems set in. Intact male dogs and cats roam. They may disappear for days in search of females in heat. Or as they wander unchecked, they may become victims of cars and end up with broken bones or worse.

Female dogs and cats present other issues during the heat cycle that pet owners don’t want to deal with.  They will find numerous unknown male dogs or cats hanging around their homes, hoping to get to their female counterparts inside. Females in heat may mark their territories by spraying doors or furniture. And then there is the messy ordeal of pet diapers for their female animals.

Instead of having their pets spayed or neutered, too many owners just turn them into shelters. This results in too many wonderful animals being euthanized in over-crowded shelters each year.

The best way to avoid this is to commit to having your pet spayed or neutered before you bring it home.

Spaying your female dog or cat will prevent her from developing reproductive cancers which are common in females. By having her spayed before her first heat cycle, you will reduce her chances of contracting mammary tumors.

Intact male dogs are subject to testicular or prostate cancer.  Have your boy neutered to prevent those diseases. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the marking of territory, roaming and aggressive behaviors.

Talk to your veterinarian about the pros and cons of having your pet spayed or neutered.

If cost is an issue, many areas of the United States offer low-cost spay or neuter services. Check with local pet stores, shelters and even newspapers and television ads for those notices. Your pet will live a longer, happier life and your relationship with your dog or cat will also strengthen if you have to deal with fewer problems.

How to Protect Fido from the Goblins

Maggie In Her Favorite Hat

Maggie In Her Favorite Hat

 

Halloween will be here soon and with that day comes monsters and spooks and goblins on our streets. But before they hit the neighborhoods for the “trick-or-treating” ritual, their ability to terrorize our four-legged friends begins at home.  Even the bravest dog will experience a heart-stopping moment when confronted by his best human buddy decked out in a Darth Vader or monster or werewolf costume.

Begin before the big day to prepare your dog for the monsters to come.  Show him the kids’ costumes and masks. Allow him to sniff them and become familiar with that unfamiliar scent of vinyl and plastic.  Have your child try on the costume in front of the dog, so that he will recognize who is behind the mask.

When the big day arrives, please leave Fido at home when you hit the streets with your kids for treats.  While he may be fine with your daughter or son in costume, he won’t know the other children out there.  A confrontation could lead to disaster.  I realize that some people will dress up their pets in costumes but please keep them on leash and close to you so they don’t accidentally frighten a child.

Confine your pet at home in a safe room with no access to an outside door.  Peace and quiet will provide the security he needs with all the excitement going on outside.  Far too many pets escape on Halloween night, and many of those never make it back home.

Be sure your dog is micro-chipped and wearing a collar with identification, just in case the worst occurs and he does get lost.

Hide the candy!  It’s not good for Fido, and chocolate could poison him.

Make sure any lit candles are out of reach of your dog.  An excited animal could knock one over.

Just those few precautions could make the difference between disaster and a happy Halloween for all.