Editor’s Note: Long-time syndicated humor columnist Tom Purcell has just launched a new, second weekly column, called Thurber’s Tail. It features pet advice, humorous pet videos and stories about his beloved pup, Thurber the yellow Lab.
I love Halloween and all the fun and the silliness it entails.
However, as a new dog dad — my lovable Labrador, Thurber, is in his 22nd month — I’m learning that our beloved pets face no small number of Halloween risks that we must protect them from.
Beware Halloween Treats
Many Halloween treats are dangerous to our furry friends. Most pet lovers know that chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs.
But did you know that candies and gum may have artificial sweeteners that are also toxic to pets?
According to The American Kennel Club, an ingredient called xylitol is in many sugar-free confections, but
it is also found in items such as toothpaste and peanut butter — beware of your neighbor’s home-baked cookies.
Gum and hard candies may also be difficult for pets to digest. Large quantities of either — which is the only quantity Thurber eats if he is able to get at a full bowl of treats — can “clump up in the stomach and cause a risk of obstruction,” says the AKC.
Raisins, which are sometimes given out as Halloween treats, are great for humans, but did you know they can cause renal failure in dogs?
Candy wrappers, too, pose considerable risk to our pets, as they “can become lodged in your pet’s throat or intestinal tract, requiring surgery to remove,” says the AKC.
Prepare Your Pet for the Startling Sounds of the Season
Thurber goes berserk every time someone knocks on the door, so you can imagine Halloween night is going to be challenging for him.
If you’re planning on handing out candy this year, American Humane recommends training sessions to help desensitize your furry friend to door knocking and the commotion of multiple visitors by creating positive associations with these sounds.
“Have someone knock on the door and then give your pet a treat,” says American Humane. “With enough repetitions, your pet will start to associate treats every time someone is at the door.”
If your pet is especially shy or fearful, however — or, like Thurber, still too much in the puppy phase to be trained to chill when the door knocks — it may be best to relocate him or her to a safe quiet room.
My plan is to place Thurber in the family room downstairs, where I will turn up the TV volume as he watches his favorite show — he loves “Life Below Zero,” in which his fellow canines often run and playing in the Alaskan bush.
He also loves The Allman Brothers on the stereo, so that will be my plan B if the TV doesn’t do the job.
Make Sure Pet Halloween Costumes Are Safe
AKC says the trend of dressing dogs in costumes has increased over the years, but safety considerations are important.
Is the costume comfortable? Does it allow your pet to move freely without constraint? Could a tie or band cause your pet to choke or trip?
AKC says that it is fairly easy to locate and purchase costumes online created specifically for pets, however, that does not necessarily ensure their safety.
“Beads, snaps, buttons, ribbons, elastic and fabric can all be intestinal hazards,” says AKC. “Never purchase costumes for pets that have dangling parts or pieces that can be chewed off.”
AKC further warns that costumes can result in “overheating, impaired vision and even difficulty breathing, if it covers the face or is too restrictive around the pet’s neck or chest.”
One last note on pet costumes: Some pet lovers think the act of dressing up our furry family members in silly costumes can be embarrassing at best and humiliating at worst.
Thurber certainly refuses to dress up for Halloween and he explains why — did I mention Thurber is a talking dog? — in a series of humorous Halloween videos posted at ThurbersTail.com.
Our furry family members should participate in family events as much as any other member of the family, but we need to take extra precautions to be sure they stay safe, happy and healthy.
Let’s conclude my first ThurbersTail.com humor and pet-advice column with this canine-inspired Halloween joke:
Question: What do you call a large dog that is in touch with his inner-most feelings?
Answer: A self-aware-wolf.
Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at [email protected].