Experts at Bella&Duke talk about potential Halloween hazards, and explain why dressing up your dog is not the brilliant idea many think it is.
Halloween is often a time of the year that families look forward to, with children picking out their favourite costume and jokes weeks in advance. Many people overlook that it can be a very stressful time for pets, not only the disguised strangers showing up to their home but also the increased chance of eating highly toxic chocolate and sweets.
Planning in advance is always best, and can help limit stress in the long run whether it’s ensuring pets have their own safe space they can retreat to or having activities/treats to keep them preoccupied, there are many ways you can prepare your pets and make sure this Halloween is a treat for them just as much as us humans.
An overlooked stressful scenario at Halloween which seems harmless is dressing up your pet. We always want to include our pets in special moments and occasions as part of our extended family but when dressing them up, take the moment to think how they feel. Some cats and dogs may not mind it, but for many these costumes can be constricting and alter their core body temperature as well as them often not being given the choice of if they want to have it on or not.
- Walk your dog before dark – Walking at night-time can already be a stressful thing for some pooches, let alone having ghosts and ghouls pass you by. If you know your usual walking route is going to be busy that night, take the added step where possible to take them for their walk earlier in the day.
- Make a safe space – If you’re planning on having a Halloween party or know from previous years that you’ll have a lot of knocks on the door it is important to have somewhere for your furry friend to retreat to. Create a quiet corner for your canine companion filled with home comforts, familiar scents and some tasty treats to keep them occupied in times of stress.
- Keep anxious pets away from the door – Building on creating a safe haven, if you know your pet can be particularly anxious with visitors, place them in a room distant from the door but not locked away. Inviting swaths of masked strangers into the house could result in aggressive or protective behaviour so it’s always best to give them their own space, even try playing some soft rock or reggae music which has been proven to reduce anxiety in dogs.
- Safety around decorations – Keep pumpkins with lit candles out of your pet’s reach. These can be fire hazards and the scary carvings may cause your pet to experience anxiety or feel the need to investigate which could result in them getting burnt.
- Calming dog clothing – Consider a comfort shirt, jumper, T touch wrap, or sleeve with a familiar scent for them to cuddle up with. Some pets feel more secure with this additional comforting device.
- Safety around sweet treats – We all know to keep chocolate as far away from your pets as possible, but during Halloween sweets, lollies and chocolate are ever-present. Lollies can be a choking hazard; the sticks are very sharp. Sugary snacks like marshmallows and cake can contain dangerous ingredients like xylitol. If your pet does eat something they shouldn’t, especially chocolate, you should contact a veterinary professional immediately and let them know how much they’ve eaten, the cocoa % of the chocolate and monitor the situation closely.
- Dressing up your pet – It’s always best to avoid this. We understand that it may look funny to you or be a great family picture, but it leads to unnecessary stress for your pet. If you still plan on dressing your pet up in their own costume, we suggest making sure that it is loose fitting, so their movement isn’t restricted and won’t irregulate their temperature, and only have them dressed up for a short period of time.
Mark Scott, CEO at Bella & Duke, added, “Whilst Halloween is usually a night we all look forward to, this isn’t the same for our pets. It can be a truly stressful time for them, with masked strangers showing up to their home that’s now been decorated with cobwebs, cauldrons and jack-o’-lanterns, what was once their safe haven has now been flipped upside down.
“Understand your dog, if you know they have an anxious temperament simply provide a safe space within the house so they can avoid the commotion. It is also essential to keep sweets and treats away from your pets’ reach as these often contain toxic ingredients and will save you an unnecessary trip to the vet.”