**This post is an update to our 2015 article ‘Halloween – Tips to keep your pets safe during October!‘.
Not much has changed in the five years since we posted this original article. If anything the use of fireworks or ‘bangers’ at this time of year has started even earlier year on year.
The reason it’s a problem is because the noise & lights can be very distressing for our pets. Many animals and dogs in particular have a fear of fireworks when they hear them. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as there are many small things we can do to help our pets deal with fireworks. We’re coming up the Halloween season again at the end of the month, which means the firework have begun. We’ve put together some points – ‘Dos & Donts’ to help pet owners & our pets through this unsettled season.
First of, safety. Do make sure your pet has ID tags on a secure collar. Make sure your contact details are up-to-date on this and also on their microchip. Yes – your pet should be microchipped, it’s the law. Visit either Fido.ie (the most popular) or one of the other 3 databases in Ireland – Animark, the Irish Kennel Club or Microdog.ie Ltd to check your details are correct. Indentification is important just incase the worst does happen and your pet gets scared by fireworks or trick-or-treaters and runs off.
Do try and walk your dog during daylight hours when there is a less chance of fireworks going off and them being scared.
Do try to make sure your pets aren’t left alone if they are distressed during this period – especially on Halloween night itself. If they look for reassurance due to loud noises and bangs try to ignore this behavior and carry on as if everything is normal. We know this may be difficult to do. But we don’t want your pet picking up on your anxiety which could possibly make the situation worse.
Do close all windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks and put on some music or a tv to mask the firework sounds. Create a quiet space where your dog can feel in control – such as their crate if they are used to it or a cosy dog den. Create some hiding places around your home!
Do try and distract your pet with treat puzzles such as stuffed frozen Kongs, Lickimats and slow release feeders.
Do make sure any small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits are moved indoors if possible, away from the sights and sounds of fireworks. Alternatively covering the hutch/cage with a thick fabric to muffle the sounds is an option – do make sure there is still plenty of ventilation.
Do talk to your vet if your pet gets very scared from fireworks as there is a variety of treatments and medications that can help. Don’t wait until the fireworks are going off to talk to your vet as some products need time to work, ie they take a week for the pet to feel the effects. DAP diffusers, Thundershirts and CDs are all great products to help with firework anxiety.
Don’t take pets trick-or-treating. Please don’t. No matter how well behaved or happy your pet is, they do not like it. Even taking them out after dark at this time of year can be stressful. Dogs can become very stressed and confused easily by all the noise and activity with strange smells, costumes, masks and loud bangs from fireworks.
We don’t advice dressing your pet in halloween costumes either. Although some pets put up with this – none really enjoy it. Ollie supports this point whole-heartedly.
Don’t let your pets near bonfires, halloween decorations, candles or other dangerous items. Dogs & cats can accidentally knock over candles with their tails and cause fires or burn themselves.
Don’t let pets near any Halloween treats especially chocolate, sweets & grapes. These are poisonous for them. Don’t let children share their sweets with the pets; make them aware that this is not OK. If you think your pet has ingested any chocolate then please contact your vet immediately.
Don’t keep pets outdoors during Halloween and if possible the weeks in the run up to it. People tend to let fireworks off during these weeks, so is best to be prepared and supervise potty visits outdoors. Keep pets indoors, in a safe quiet place where they feel secure & happy. Maybe as we mentioned above, a crate if they crate trained, their bed or a cosy corner den made up especially for them. Make sure this area is not in a room which is constantly be disturbed by callers and an open door. It should be an inner room if possible where fireworks and loud noises are muffled.
Finally – do keep a look out for animal abuse or cruelty over the Halloween period and report any cases to your local SPCA. Unfortunately animal cruelty tends to increase at this time of year. By no means are these tips exhaustive. If you have any of your own please pop them into the comments! =)
RSPCA Infographic Poster: