It is that time of year when the weather changes to cool, and the harvests are in. Children of all ages become enthralled with scary stories and dressing up in costumes. As children go out to receive their bounty we should take into consideration our four legged children. The very things that make Halloween so much fun for people can represent a health hazard to some pets and cause a lot of stress to others.
I used to have a dog that was rescued who did not appreciate strangers approaching him. Never mind monsters over and over again in one night.!!
It took a long time for him to adjust to a stable family home, but even so he was still an anxious dog. So on Halloween, we would keep him in the back room away from the ruckus and ramblings. To reduce his stress, we kept the TV on and made sure that one or two family members sat with him. It was never tough to find someone to watch tv for an evening – I would volunteer wholeheartedly!
If the weather was good, another family member would sit out on the porch to give out the treats. If the weather was more typical for Halloween (i.e. miserably cold and wet), we would disconnect the doorbell. We found this made for a more enjoyable Halloween for everyone including T- dog.
If you have an anxious pet maybe these tips can help you too. You should take your anxious dog out for a walk prior to darkness, and then again after the ghouling hours – i.e. later than 930 pm.
Remember that if you tie up your dog, he can’t escape if he becomes frightened by the excitement of the occasion. So definitely do not leave them out there alone.
Pets may become the targets of mistreatment by pranksters. Since cats, especially black cats, have a historical association with Halloween rituals, it is a good idea to confine your cat to the house for several days prior to Halloween. Sadly, there are always some reports about black cats that go missing at this time of year.
My other concern about the Halloween festivities is the loot. We must be diligent to keep the candy and treats away from our pets. Chocolate is a known toxin to pets, as is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in sugar free treats. Even the wrappers and containers can be dangerous and cause serious harm to our pets if they chew them up to get at the bounty within. Never underestimate whether your pet is interested in these treats — IT IS JUST NOT WORTH THE RISK!.
I have never been much for dressing our pets in costumes, but for those who have this yearning to have their furry best friend become a fashionista, then my suggestion is 100% supervision at all times, Costumes can get tangled on furniture, ripped or torn, eaten up or caught on fire inadvertently. Make sure your pet’s mobility is not compromised, because this can lead to tripping or injuring a leg.
Decorations are fun and nowadays interactive, but again pets should be kept away from these.
Halloween can be fun for children of all ages. Keeping your common sense in check we can all have a safe and happy holiday with no visits to the emergency veterinary clinic. Remember that your pet does not understand what Halloween is all about. Be sympathetic to any fears and anxieties and offer him or her a quiet place of refuge for the evening. NEVER force your pet to participate in the festivities if she seems distressed or fearful.
Happy Halloween to all. Dr. David Costello