Boo! Halloween is the scariest night of the year as trick or treaters descend on our streets in search of candy and October 31 can also be fright night for our pets.
Loud knocks at the door, ghoulish costumes, and screams could spook your pet and cause stress and anxiety.
Planning ahead and taking some simple steps at home could help your scaredy-cat or panicked pooch so the RSPCA has pulled together these seven top tips to help your pets this Howl-oween:
- Make sure your pet has a safe space to hide away if they feel scared – you could build them a little den or set up a bed or crate in a quiet, dark corner;
- If your pet is easily frightened by strangers coming to the door, put goodies in a bowl on the doorstep and put up a sign on your door asking trick or treaters not to ring the doorbell or knock on your door;
- If you are opening the door to trick or treaters then make sure your pet is confined somewhere safe and secure so they can’t make a run for it if they’re spooked (and ensure your pet is microchipped with contact details up-to-date just in case they do escape!);
- Walk your dog during daylight to avoid trick or treaters and people in scary fancy dress outfits – these unusual costumes can be really scary for dogs, especially if they can’t see our facial expressions which they use to understand how we’re feeling;
- Close doors, windows and draw curtains to muffle the sound of loud noises or voices outside and to mask any bright lights – you could also play some relaxing music (research has found that classical music can help relax our pets) to help soothe them;
- Keep chocolate and sweets out of reach of pets as these can be toxic and could make them very sick;
- Avoid dressing up your pets this Halloween – many can find this experience very stressful and lots of outfits can restrict their movement, make them uncomfortable or cause them to overheat, and can prevent them from exhibiting normal behaviours. If you’d like your pet to be involved this Halloween, perhaps you could teach them a new, fun trick or buy them a special Halloween toy!
RSPCA pet welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Fear of loud noises, fireworks, and strange and unfamiliar people can be scary for some pets but it can be managed. We recommend seeking advice from your vet so that you can plan ahead and help your pet cope around Halloween.
“For example, your vet may recommend the use of diffusers which disperse calming chemicals into the room. In the longer term, if your dog is frightened of unfamiliar noises or fireworks, your vet may suggest referral to a clinical animal behaviourist to teach him/her to get used to the sounds,
“It is also a good idea to provide your dog or cat with a safe haven and give them time to get used to this before the season starts. Choose somewhere quiet and help him learn that being there is positive and that no harm will come to him by giving him toys or treats.
“Small animals that live outside should have lots of extra bedding so they can burrow and some of their enclosure could be covered by a blanket for extra insulation and soundproofing. If you are planning to bring them indoors then start to introduce this before Halloween.”