For us humans, Halloween can be a night full of delicious treats, creative costumes, and spine-tingling chills. For our companion animals, however, this can be one of the most genuinely frightening nights of the year. Startling noises, disguised humans, dangerous foods, and changes in expected routines can all feel a bit unsettling for our furry friends.
The good news is there is plenty we can do to help our pets feel a little more at ease during these spooky festivities – a little planning ahead and a careful eye on your fur-friend can make a big difference in their Halloween experience.
Here are five key strategies to help keep your companion safe, healthy, and comfortable during this potentially stressful time of year:
It’s no doubt that one of the highlights of the Halloween season for kids and adults alike is all the delicious chocolates and candies that suddenly appear! In the excitement of trick-or-treat night, these small snacks can easily become scattered around the house. Make sure that dogs and cats stay healthy by keeping tempting treats like chocolate or xylitol sweetener (and tummy-twisters like strings, sticks, and candy wrappers) well out of their reach.
At this time of year, a mind-boggling array of adorable kitty and doggo costumes begin to appear on store shelves. If you will be dressing up your pet for the season, try to keep their gear simple and comfortable. Keep in mind that costumes can sometimes interfere with the communication signals – like their tails, ears, facial expressions, and body positions – that help them interact with others. Choosing an option that is minimally restrictive is probably more comfortable for your furry friend. Also avoid easily-swallowed accessories, and make sure they are always supervised while in disguise.
The thing about Halloween is that it’s a very noisy holiday! Trick-or-treaters repeatedly knocking at the door, or neighbourhood fireworks exploding at unpredictable intervals, can place even a typically laid-back cat or dog quite on edge. Make sure to keep a close eye on your companion for signs of stress, and give them a safe and quiet retreat space out of the hustle and bustle. Calming music playing in this space can also help drown out some of the extra noise. If your pet is particularly anxious during these situations, reach out to your vet ahead of the holiday season to see if stress-management medication would be appropriate.
Halloween decorations seem to be getting more elaborate by the year! Lights, cobwebs, inflatable witches and ghouls, pumpkins, candles… the options are endless! When choosing your festive decor, keep your companion and their behaviour in mind – make sure that candles, cobwebs, and anything that can be tangled or ingested are set up well out of paw’s reach.
Because of the disconcerting noises, frequently-opened doors, decorations and disguises, Halloween is one of the highest risk nights of the year for lost or escaped pets. Knowing this, make sure that everyone in the family is on the alert to keep pets in a secure area of the house where they don’t have easy access to open doors to bolt through – even for cats who go outside, this is a good night to keep them safe and cosy inside the home. In case of an unplanned escape, make sure your pet has their collar securely on with current ID tags, and that their microchip information is up to date.