Natures Menu’s Veterinary Education Manager offers her advice on keeping pets safe during Halloween and Bonfire Night
With many official Halloween and Bonfire Night events cancelled this year, at home celebrations are set to be the latest trend this autumn, and experts are concerned about the effect it will have on our pets.
1 Keep your sweet treats to yourself
Halloween is known for its sweet treats, but a lot of sugary snacks we consume over this period can be toxic to our pets. It might be stating the obvious to some, but we know that 73% of pet owners are unaware that chocolate is poisonous to our four-legged friends. In dogs, symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, panting and restlessness and severe cases, it can result in muscle tremors, seizures and heart failure. If you think that sugar-free sweets are safer for your dog – think again. They contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is even more poisonous to pets than chocolate. Symptoms your pet may show include vomiting, loss of coordination and seizures and in severe cases – liver failure. To avoid your pet eating any of the sweet stuff, we advise that you keep your sweet bowl way out of reach from your pets. If you suspect they may have ingested something toxic, call your vet immediately for advice.
2 Give your pet a suitable treat as a distraction
A bone is an ideal treat to give your dog this Halloween or Bonfire Night. The repetitive chewing motion releases serotonin – a chemical also known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone, which can help to promote relaxation. As tasty chew can also help to keep your dog distracted from the sudden changes in sound.
Loud bangs from fireworks can scare your pet, causing them to become distressed. Help to reduce the noise and ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible by closing your windows and curtains, putting on some music or your TV, and providing a place for them to hide. Your local veterinary practice can offer help and advice on calming aids – remember to approach them far in advance of the celebrations as many calming aids should be used or administered in advance of the night itself.
4 Treat your pet as you normally would
Try not to make too much fuss of your pet when they are scared, as this can reinforce the idea that there is a need for them to be distressed – give your pet plenty of space to hide and comfort if needed.
5 Ensure your pet is microchipped and collar information is up to date
As fireworks can continue for several weeks at this time of year, it is vital that your pet’s microchip and collar have all your most recent information on. Should they get spooked and run away, they can be safely reunited with you.
6 Safety in the garden
If you, or neighbours are having a bonfire or fireworks display at home, make sure that you thoroughly clean the area afterwards. Sticks or debris in the garden could cause your pet injuries such as wood splinters stuck under their gums and could even pierce vital organs.
Melanie adds: “Halloween and Bonfire Night are already known to be stressful times for animals due to loud noises, flashing lights and mischievous behaviour, however the celebrations are going to be happening much closer to home this year, so we must be even more prepared. It is vital that every pet owner takes measures to help safeguard their animals in the best ways they can – we hope our tips can provide some advice for your furry friends this autumn.”