Visibility’s key for safe dog walk after dark

  • Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 4:18pm
  • Life

By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer

The days are getting shorter, but your doggie doesn’t care. He or she still wants a daily walk.

So how do you and your pet stay safe after the sun’s gone down?

The key is visibility, for you and your dog, said Molly Reagan Axt, a program manager with PAWS in Lynnwood.

And where you are walking will help determine what kinds of visibility safety clothing you put on, Axt said.

If you are walking in an urban setting aided by a lot of street lights, wearing light-colored clothing and using a reflective leash for the dog might be all you need.

But if you walk in the suburbs or in a rural setting, you should wear a safety vest and a head lamp in addition to a reflective light attached to the animal’s harness, Axt said.

You also might consider a little flashing light or a blinking collar for your dog, Axt said.

Another factor for successful and safe walks in the dark is being in full control of your pet by using a fixed-length leash as opposed to a retractable one.

“You might have gone to great pains to make yourself and your dog visible, but it doesn’t mean everyone has,” Axt said.

“You want to avoid unexpected on-leash encounters,” Axt said. “By controlling your dog’s proximity to your body, you will have a safer, happier walk.”

The PAWS website offers advice on dog and cat pet care and information on wildlife. Go to

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;

Halloween safety for pets

Here are some tips offered by Heidi Ganahl, founder of the pet services company Camp Bow Wow, and Stacie Ventura, human resources manager at N.O.A.H., Stanwood’s no-kill shelter, so so your pets don’t have a frightful Halloween.

• If you insist on turning your dog or cat into a superhero, make sure the costume isn’t inhibiting your pet’s ability to breathe, move or communicate. Costumes, coats, sweaters or even hats make it more difficult for your pet to give clear signals because their tail or ears are hidden or obscured.

• Make sure the costume doesn’t have choking hazards such as small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces by inspecting it carefully.

• Do not put makeup or face paint on your pet. Paints can irritate their skin or might be eaten and could be toxic.

• Chocolate, especially the dark kind, can make dogs or cats very sick. You’ll know if your pet has eaten chocolate if he or she exhibits lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.

• Those cute decorative Halloween pumpkins, ghosts and other knickknacks need to be kept out of reach of animals, and that includes candy corn.

• Do not take dogs trick-or-treating. They can become reactive because they are on edge and may bite a child or get into a dog fight.

• Do not serve corn on the cob leftovers to the dog. Corn on the cob is one of the top 10 things that causes blockages in a dog’s digestive system. Dogs don’t chew up the cob, they swallow big chunks that their systems can’t digest.