Halloween. This American tradition has now become so entrenched in our Australian culture that even if you don’t plan on celebrating it yourself, chances are come next Tuesday afternoon your neighbourhood will be filled with “trick or treaters” knocking at your door.
For your four legged friends Halloween can be extremely stressful… and potentially lethal.
The overload of unusual sights, sounds and smells can make them anxious, confused and even likely to hide or escape, and there’s also the dangers of chocolate and sweet wrappers lying around your home and your neighbourhood.
Regardless of whether you personally embrace Halloween or not, here are 8 ways you can help make this Halloween a safer and less stressful occasion for your pets.
1. Is your pet’s id visible and correct?
With trick or treaters coming to your front door and even potentially in and out of your side gate your pet may escape, especially if something spooks them. If your pet escapes and becomes lost, they are much more likely to be quickly and easily returned if they’re wearing a collar and tag with your phone number on it.
If you’ve moved or changed your number make sure your information is up-to-date both on your pet’s collar and also with their microchip by contacting your local council.
2. Does your pet need to wear a Halloween costume?
Okay, we admit that Fido looks pretty darn cute on Instagram, but even if your pet enjoys wearing a costume they must be supervised by an adult.
When choosing or making a costume ensure it isn’t dangerous (restricting movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe) or simply annoying to your pet. Then take your time introducing it to your pet, rewarding them with treats for wearing it.
You’ll also need to take great care to ensure they don’t chew and ingest any part of their costume, and ensure it’s not a potential fire hazard if you have any lanterns or candles as part of your Halloween decorations.
If at any time your pet is irritated or stressed by their Halloween costume, take if off immediately.
3. If you’re not going to be home is your pet safe?
If you’re not going to be at home on Halloween don’t leave your pet alone outside. You have no idea who will be visiting your home and don’t want to risk silly teenage pranksters teasing or hurting your pet, or leaving your gate open so your pet can escape.
4. Will your costume freak out your pet?
Your Halloween costumes can make you and your family look totally different… and incredibly scary to your pet. If freaked out, your pet may react with a flight or fright response (either running away, hiding, or becoming aggressive), so it’s best to let your pet see you get dressed up or try to keep your costume to a minimum.
5. Are any sweet treats well out of reach of your pet?
Chocolate and lollies (especially those that contain artificial sweeteners) can be dangerous, even lethal, for your dog or cat. If you’re having a Halloween party or even if you just have a stash of sweets ready for trick or treaters, ensure they are well out of your pet’s reach.
If you think your pet may have ingested some chocolate watch for the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, or even seizures. If your pet shows any of these symptoms ring your vet immediately or contact a mobile vet, who can come to your home.
6. Have you planned how and where to decorate your home?
Part of the fun of Halloween is decorating your home, as well as dressing up yourself. Unfortunately, many Halloween decorations involve open flame, wiring, batteries…and even plastic and glass which can turn into lethal shards if dropped or broken.
Try to keep all decorations well away from your pets, however if they ingest any decoration call your vet immediately.
7. Does your pet feel safe?
With the doorbell constantly ringing and groups of noisy, sugar hyped children dressed up to scare, Halloween can be a very frightening time for your pets.
Minimise the risk of them escaping or aggressively barking at strangers by keeping them confined to a safe place such as their crate (if they are crate trained) or on their bed in a quiet dark room, well away from the front door.
8. What about the days after Halloween?
If you walk your dog on October 31 or over the next few days after Halloween, keep him or her on a short lead and watch out for any lolly wrappers, chocolates or sweets that have been dropped on the pavement or on the grass.
If your dog does inadvertently ingest a foreign item on their walk they could either experience a blockage or become sick with chocolate poisoning, so keep a close eye on them and call your veterinary clinic if you’re at all worried.
Worried about how your pet will react to Halloween?
Following these simple tips will help ensure your pets stay safe and stress-free during Halloween. But if you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.