Halloween Horrors - Keeping your pets happy this Halloween
Trick or Treat?
Costumes, parties, sparklers and fireworks, Halloween is an exciting time of year for many adults and kids. Unfortunately, for the majority of pets, it’s filled with fear, due to the large number of loud fireworks and bangers that go off around this time and the frequent calls at the door on the night itself. We hear from so many pet owners that the bangers and fireworks have been going since earlier this month and many pets are too terrified to leave their homes after dark. Others are in a constant state of anxiety, waiting for the next crack of a banger to explode nearby.
On top of this fear, the nights are getting longer, so many of us have changed our routines. This also adds to a dogs’ already nervous disposition.
We’ve pulled together some helpful tips to keep your pet a little calmer this Halloween.
Please share them with pet owners who might find them helpful and do get in touch if you have any questions or tips to add! Don't forget, there's over 15% off our "Halloween Horrors" package here.
Click on the title to expand on the tip:
Keep to a routine:
Whether it’s the (not so) gentle nudge that it’s dinner time to the glance at the door to ask for a walk, dogs like a routine. They may not be able to tell the time, but they always know what time it is! A routine gives dogs a sense of security as they know what to expect, when. They aren’t worried about whether the next walk will be in an hour or 10 hours, because it happens at the same time every day. Keeping to a routine reduces their overall anxiety which is vital at this time of year.
We can’t explain to our dogs that they are safe, but we can distract them! Use interactive toys, such as “Licki” mats, snuffle mats or Kongs to challenge the brain, ease stress and make your dog feel safe and happy. You can prepare the Kong and “Licki” mats in advance and pop them in the freezer to extend the activity time for your dog. It also means you are always prepared!
Build a den:
Create a safe space for your dog to retire to. Crates can be ideal for this, but only if your dog is crate trained and if they are used appropriately. Otherwise, just put their bed out of the way in a quiet and darker area of your home. Think of it as a magical fort that you used to build as a child. Dogs will appreciate that same type of fort, for different reasons. These safe spaces give them comfort and help reduce anxiety levels.
Trick or Treat:
Homes are full of sweets and treats at Halloween. Don’t leave the bag of goodies for a nosy dog to dive into! Chocolate in particular is poisonous to dogs and could make them very sick. No matter how much your dog begs for a piece of chocolate, remember dogs and chocolate don’t mix. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine which is toxic to dogs as they aren’t able to break it down or metabolise it. If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, in any form you must seek veterinary assistance. Try to work out how much they have eaten and when they ate it and if possible take any wrappers to the vet as this information will help the vet to work out whether your dog has eaten a toxic amount of chocolate and how best to treat them.
Try to get long walks done before dark / the fireworks start. This can be a challenge for those working full time, but even a long early morning walk will help relieve some stress for your dog by tiring them out. The rest of the walks later in the day can be shorter in order to avoid bangers and fireworks. While it may be tempting to leave your dog off the lead, remember that even the most obedient dog can get “spooked” and run off. Many a dog has gone missing for hours, even days in this manner. Ensure your dog is microchipped (that the details are current) and the ID on their collar is secure. For evening walks, we’d also recommend adding lights to their leash, collar or harness. It makes it easier for your dog to be seen in traffic when crossing the road or on dark paths that cars might reverse into while leaving their homes.
Dogs don’t always need that night time walk if you are lucky enough to have a garden. Why not create a “sniffari” in your garden. This way your dog can mooch about the garden, relieve themselves and enjoy a little bit of distraction without leaving the house.
It might be a little late in the month for desensitisation training, but many pet owners we talk to have found it beneficial. It involves playing the sounds of fireworks and bangers at extremely low volumes while distracting your dog. As the days and weeks progress, you gradually increase the volume until the dog is “desensitised”.
We would recommend a “white noise” machine. Promoted to help babies sleep, these can make it harder for your dog to hear the sounds outside of the house. While the “white noise” machine can’t block out the sound completely, it has been recommended as an aid - far better than playing heavy metal music at full volume until the fireworks stop! (Yes, some of our customers do this, much to the annoyance of their neighbours!). Also consider a Thundershirt. These little coats create a swaddling effect which helps keep pets calm.
We have a range of products available that target anxiety in pets. For dogs that are more sensitive or have a tendency to hyperactivity when over excited, we would recommend using our Calm & Balmy spray. This quick acting spray is ideal for one off situations that require immediate attention. It can be used in three ways depending on level of anxiety. Applied to bedding or environment for low level worries, applied to neck and head area as anxiety rises, and for high “in the moment” anxiety you can spray it on your hand and offer it directly to your dog to lick. We also stock “Calm Canine”, which is a dietary support to ease anxiety on a daily basis and reduce stress for a worry-free pet. They also get the added benefit of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids with this supplement. We are also lucky to have new stock of our “Cozy-Up Calming Cushion”. These beautiful cushions are handcrafted using local Irish Tweed made here in Co. Kerry. Then filled with organic valerian root, and a few drops of the purest lavender essential oil which aid relaxation in your dog.
Comfort your pet:
Fear is not a controllable emotion, it is not a behaviour that your pet is choosing to exhibit. The mythical advice about not comforting your pet when they show fear has been extensively debunked by animal behaviourists. So if your pet comes to you out of fear for reassurance, you will not be reinforcing any fear or behaviour, simply giving them what they need to make them feel safe. Give them comfort and distract them when possible.
Some dogs do experience extreme anxiety that needs medical intervention. As discussed above there are many herbal options available, but on occasion a dog may need just a little more help. However, we would advise you to avoid drugging your pets if at all possible. Medications may have serious side effects, so it is really important to discuss these with your Vets first, and ensure that the medication is only given as and when required and that there are no issues with withdrawal of meds.
For more information on our products, please visit our website: https://www.holistichound.ie/