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Keeping Pets Safe this Halloween

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Halloween can be a particularly scary time for our pets. From fireworks, to the general ruckus associated with trick-or-treating, it can be hard for our four legged and feathered friends to cope.

There are many tips and tricks that may help our pets get through the Halloween period. Below are some suggestions and advice to give pets a helping hand during this spooky time!

Safety of an Indoor ‘Den’

It’s important to keep our pets indoors during Halloween night. Remember to keep all doors, windows and cat flaps closed to prevent accidental escape should our pets get a fright. Even when inside, pets can become very distressed by loud bangs and voices outdoors. Remember – out pets have much better hearing than ourselves!

It often helps to set up a ‘den’ for them – a safe corner of the house with some of their favourite toys and comfort items to help redirect their attention to something more positive. Having the TV or radio on can also help reduce or drown out those scary outdoor noises.

It’s also extremely important we neither punish nor reward our pets for their stress related behaviours as they occur. Doing so only proves to increase their stress or reinforce the behaviour.

The Dangers of Halloween Treats

Sweets can be a danger to our pets

Many of us are aware of dangers associated with food and electrical items around Christmas time. However, it’s important to remember these same dangers are present around the Halloween period as well.

Not only chocolate, but many sweets, cakes and other confectionery items contain many ingredients that are dangerous for our pets. Barmbrack contains raisins and sultanas, which can be toxic to our canine companions. Xylitol is a sweetener being used increasingly in many confectionery products – including some peanut butters! This sweetener can cause extreme drops in blood sugar and liver damage, causing very serious illness in our pets.

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We must also not forget the extra wires and electronics associated with Halloween, and remember to keep them well out of reach of our pets during this time.

Remedies and Medication

There are many natural remedies we can give our pets to try and calm them during this time. These remedies come in a variety of forms, including syrups, tablets, and plug-in pheromone diffusers, collars and sprays.

For pets who become extremely stressed and agitated, there are also stronger medications that we may sometimes prescribe short term to get them over the period. For more information on these, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Is it too early to prepare for next year?

It’s not! In fact, the period directly following the Halloween is the perfect time to start preparing for years to come. Many of the above are short term solutions, but there are many things we can do to try and help our pets cope long term.

This involves helping to change our pets perspective on what is scary to them, and includes behavior modification techniques including ‘desensitisation’ and ‘counter-conditioning’. In short, desensitisation involves getting our pets used to certain noises – such as fireworks – that usually cause stress to them. There are many CD’s of firework sounds and resources online to help run through this technique, as well as many ‘counter-conditioning’ techniques.

For more information about the tips outlined above, don’t hesitate to contact us at either practice by phone on (01) 455 5362 (Terenure branch) or (01) 296 5876 (Dundrum branch), or email us at pets@southdublinvets.ie.