Halloween Tips for Pets

Trick-or-treaters, haunted houses and fancy-dress parties... Halloween is full of fun things for you and your family to enjoy, but it's one of those holidays that is enjoyed more by people than by pets.

Keep the following precautions in mind when preparing for the frightfully fun festivities and help ensure that everyone in your family—including your pet—has a safe Halloween.

*Please note: no two animals are the same and it may take a combination of items to help. 

Before a Firework Event (up to 6 months before)

  1. Plug in an Adaptil / Feliway / Pet Remedy diffuser in the room that the dog/cat uses to rest and relax. These contain naturally calming pheromones which are also clinically proven to help highly strung or anxious pets.
  2. Do not switch the plug on and off.
  3. It is a good idea to play a Fireworks CD to help desensitise your pet to the various whizzes, bangs and screeches associated with fireworks. Starting this sound therapy as soon as possible increases its effect. Dogs and cats have exceptionally good hearing and are inclined to be startled or afraid of noises that are loud or unfamiliar. Pets therefore need to learn to ignore sounds that are loud, unusual and potentially frightening.
  4. Start your pet on Nutracalm if they are anxious. This product has been proven to help promote a sense of calm in dogs and cats (eg. due to lightning, thunder, fireworks etc.), anxiety or travelling. It can also be used to manage long term behavioural problems.

On the Day of the Event

  1. Read our Dogs and Fireworks advice. Provide a den or hiding place for your pet whilst fireworks are going off. This should be a place where your dog or cat can retreat to, away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities. It is best if their hideaway is in a blacked out room with new toys and chews for them and preferably with things for you to do as well, so they are not abandoned in the room. Draw the curtains and put the TV on to mask any noise as this will help remove potential additional problems with flashing lights, noise etc.
  2. Use an Adaptil / Feliway / Pet Remedy diffuser in conjunction with a dose of Nutracalm as close to the den or hiding place as possible, or where your pet spends most of its time. This will maximise the calming potential of their hideaway.
  3. Ignore fearful behaviour, dogs may pick up on their owner's anxiety making the problem worse. Don’t fuss or try to reassure your dog when he is frightened, as this rewards the negative behaviour. Likewise, DO NOT punish your pet when they are scared, this only confirms that there is something to be afraid of. Maybe try to engage your pet in some form of active game. Cats prefer to be left to cope on their own.
  4. Walk your dog early during daylight hours before the fireworks start and give your pet a dose of Nutracalm an hour before it gets dark.
  5. Ensure windows, doors, and cat flaps remain closed during firework season to both prevent pets escaping and reduce the noise. This will stop them bolting to escape if a sudden noise occurs.
  6. While keeping your cats indoors, ensure that they have constant access to litter trays. One litter tray should be placed in separate locations. Sadly, we at Cara Veterinary Group, have encountered many cats that have fallen victims to pranksters, so please bear this in mind this Halloween and keep them inside.
  7. All those sweets may taste great to us, but certain sweets, especially chocolate, can be toxic to pets. Sweet wrappers can also be harmful if swallowed. Instead, tempt your pet with a few of their favourite treats.
  8. Be aware of how your animal reacts when dressing them up. If you do decide to play dress-up, make sure the costume is safe for your pet and doesn't constrain their movement, hearing or ability to breathe. Check the costume for parts your pet could chew off and choke on and look for dangling pieces that could cause injury.
  9. Keep lit pumpkins out of their tail-swishing area. Curious kitties risk being singed or burned by the flame. They could also easily knock over a candle or pumpkin and cause a fire.
  10. Keep decorations that pets could chew on i.e. streamers, fake spider webs, wires and cords out of reach.
  11. Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped. If they do escape, frightened, confused animals can easily get lost.
  12. Thundershirts are also recommended as they act like a snug wrap / the same way as you would swaddle a baby. They are available for sale on Amazon and Pet Stop. 

After the Event

  1. Continue the use of Nutracalm at half the initial dose if your pet is generally anxious.
  2. Leave the Adaptil / Feliway / Pet Remedy diffuser plugged in for one week.
  3. If it is likely that similar events will happen several times in the same period, maintain the Adaptil / Feliway / Pet Remedy diffuser during the whole period.
  4. Don’t ignore the problem because it happens once or twice a year. Instigate a desensitisation programme once the season is over and you have control over the environment again.

Please feel free to contact us with any queries.