Unfortunately Halloween and the weeks leading up to it can be a very distressing time for pets and also for pet owners.
Here are a few tips to try and make things as safe as possible and hopefully a little less stressful for your pets.
1. Keep pets indoors during Halloween (especially after dark) and make sure that they have a safe, quiet place where they aren’t frightened by all of the noise and excitement and where they cannot escape through a constantly open door. A quiet room e.g. a bedroom where they can’t hear much of the noise from fireworks and loud bangs can help. Putting a radio or television on in the room can help block out some of the outdoor noise and closing blinds and curtains removes the visual stimulus from fireworks. If your pet looks for reassurance due to being scared of loud noises the worst thing you can do is to try and console them, this only makes the pet feel that it is appropriate to be scared. Try to carry on as if nothing is out of the ordinary, as your pet may feed off your anxiety, making the situation worse. Also never punish your pet for being scared, it will only make the situation worse.
Ask your vet for suitable calming treatments if necessary. A dog or cat plug-in Pheromone diffuser (DAP and Feliway) can be very useful for anxious pets. Other products such as Kalm aid are available over the counter and can help with stress reduction in some pets especially if used early enough before the stressful event – please ask you vet/vet nurse for advice.
For some pets (dogs especially) a prescription for a stronger anti-anxiety medication may be necessary especially if your dog has a history of extreme stress around Halloween. Please ask your vet for advice.
2. Make sure that pets always have good identification in case they escape from the house. Please ensure that your pet is wearing a collar with a clearly readable identity tag. We also recommend that you have your pet microchipped and to ensure that the microchip is registered to you on a database. Often when pets go missing an owner cannot be contacted as the microchip is still registered to a breeder or previous owner. If you are unsure whether your pet’s chip is correctly registered please ask your vet to check this for you.
3. Don’t take pets trick-or-treating. Dogs can become very distressed and confused by all the noise and activity with strange smells, costumes and loud bangs from fireworks.
4. Don’t let animals near bonfires, candles or other dangerous items. Avoid decorations that can be easily chewed or swallowed.
5. Make sure that your pet does not have access to any tasty Halloween treats. Chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs, even small amounts. If your pet accidentally eats chocolate please contact your vet immediately.
6. Finally if you are made aware of or see anyone mistreating an animal please report it immediately to the Gardaí.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!