Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. HIF animal behaviourist expert, Laura V, recommends taking these simple precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy over the Halloween festivities.
Candle-lit pumpkins, witches and werewolves are upon us this season as we welcome one of the most popular holidays in the world; Halloween. Celebrated more and more in Australia, people are willing to invest in a range of ‘All Hallows Evening’ traditions spanned across hundreds of years, that celebrate the more gory side of our culture.
Costumes, fireworks, parties and drinking are amongst common ways to celebrate the holiday, all of which are not often part of our regular daily routine.
For our pets, this can turn from Halloween to Howloween as they are confronted with some unusual behaviours by their owners, leading to symptoms of anxiety and even fear. All pets, not just dogs and cats are sensitive to their environment, and anything sudden and out of the ordinary can lead to unnecessary stress.
Rabbits are particularly sensitive to loud noises, as are dogs; whilst cats can become fearful of other exposure such as a change in the number of people in the house, particularly with parties. Birds are also creatures of habit and in particular, if they are in an enclosure, they are unable to remove themselves from your celebrations. So, no matter who your beloved furry, scaly or feathered friend is, ensure you are considerate of their needs, whilst you engage in the wonderful traditions of Halloween.
Here’s how you can do it:
Ensure your pet has a safe place which is inaccessible to children and strangers.
If your pet is going to participate in wearing a costume, ensure they are comfortable wearing it and not displaying signs of discomfort or anxiety. This can be determined in their body language and movements in the costume. Although it may be great fun to dress our pets up, it is more important that their feelings are considered more than our desire to dress them up in cute outfits.
Keep any dangerous food out of reach. This includes all the treats you are offering at the front door. Instead, you can make a cute trick or treat bag for your pets, which includes the yummy pet friendly foods they are safe to eat. This is a lovely activity that your children can get involved in as well.
Keep your pet inside on the night of Halloween. Unpredictable lights, noises and activities can make them feel afraid, anxious and out of control.
Keep all decorations out of reach of your pets and any electrical cords well and truly away from your rodent and lagomorph buddies (rabbits, rats and mice), as they are the most likely to experiment with their teeth.
Keep any battery-operated decorations away from all of your pets. Chewing on batteries can be lethal.
Desensitise your pet to experiences you would like them to be a part of, before the event. For instance, if they have a costume you would like them to wear, ensure they feel comfortable and calm in it the day before. Show them the decorations you are installing on a lead, to prevent them feeling overwhelmed or startled on the evening. If you are unsure of how they are feeling, don’t risk it by forcing them to experience something. Instead, allow them to have choice to engage and ensure they have access to their safe hide-away space.
Ensure your pet is identifiable! Their ID tag and registration must be worn at the very least on the night of Halloween, in case the unforeseen should occur and they escape from your home.
If you are expecting the door to be ringing off the hook all evening, ensure your pet cannot access the area. This is important to ensure their safety as well as the safety of visitors Trick or Treating.
Whilst we as humans are instinctively drawn to cultural celebrations, it is important to always consider the feelings of animals around you. Dogs, cats, lizards, frogs, rabbits, ferrets and any other best friend you have, don’t understand why or what Halloween is. But whilst its cultural significance is not comprehensible, it doesn’t mean your pets can’t enjoy in celebrations safely with you. This is best done by following my advice here and putting your pet’s feelings first with every experience they have over this time. Always prevent them from being exposed to an environment or experience where they feel unsafe. That way, you can ensure that they get to see the lighter shades of the holiday! A happy pet makes for a howling good time this season!
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