Tips for keeping dogs from being anxious on Halloween

SAN DIEGO – San Diego County officials advise residents to take safety precautions Wednesday, including using insect repellant to keep mosquitoes away and keeping pet dogs in a secure area where they won’t be frightened by trick-or-treaters.

Residents should also keep their pets, particularly dogs, safe and calm during peak trick-or-treating hours. Dogs may become anxious and protective due to the increased number of people knocking on doors and trick-or-treaters in costumes that could scare them.

“Some dogs take Halloween in stride, but others act out,” said Animal Services Director Dan DeSousa. “Do Fido a favor and keep him behind a closed door or a crate away from the front door.”

Pet owners are advised to do things that could keep their dog distracted or relaxed like giving them their favorite toy or turning on the TV to drown out the sounds of increased activity. Trick-or-treaters are also advised to avoid approaching strange dogs and houses with a dog barking behind a door or fence.

As an additional safety measure, owners can get their dogs microchipped for free Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon at the San Diego Humane Society’s Oceanside campus.

“There is typically a spike in the number of stray animals we receive the day after a big holiday like Halloween,” said Beau Archer, the San Diego Humane Society’s vice president of animal welfare. “We’re offering free microchips so people can protect their pets and reunite with them faster should they become lost.”

According to the San Diego County Vector Control Program, the county is still in the midst of mosquito-borne illness season. Mosquitoes generally feed around dusk, coinciding with the peak time for trick-or-treaters.

“Even in costume, you can get bitten by mosquitoes,” said Chris Conlan, a supervising vector ecologist with the Vector Control Program. “One of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your children is to apply some insect repellent to exposed skin to help keep mosquitoes away.”

Contracting mosquito-borne illnesses during the fall is not uncommon in San Diego, county officials said. Earlier this month, a 91-year-old man in La Jolla contracted West Nile virus from a mosquito, requiring hospitalization. Residents are advised to empty household items that contain standing water such as buckets and plant saucers and call the Vector Control Program at (858) 694- 2888 to report increased mosquito activity.

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