Many families are again choosing to celebrate Halloween at home this year. Remember, fireworks and some treats can pose as a danger for your dog.
Fireworks are often ready to buy at this time of year, in some areas this can be weeks if not months before Halloween. Many animals find them scary, not just dogs. The loud noises and flashing lights can be very frightening.
To help reduce the stress fireworks can bring to your dog, read our tips on ways in which you can help your canine friend this year.
1) Try and avoid taking your dog out when fireworks are likely to be set off. Walk your dog during daylight hours. This slight change in your normal routine can be introduced a few days in advance.
2) To help mask the sound of fireworks, try keeping a radio or television on. The volume should not be so loud that this will cause stress to your dog! If you are someone who uses Spotify, this actually has a playlist for dogs and other pets.
3) Some dogs will try and find a quiet place in the house and it may not actually be their own bed. If this is the case, let them choose where they want to go.
If you have a dog which you would normally crate, do not lock it. Some dogs find this more stressful. Let them have the option to move out of the crate if they want to.
4) Draw the curtains and blinds. This will help muffle any noises and shield any flashes of light. Leaving a light or lamp on will also help.
5) Try not to change your own behaviour or routine. Some dogs can be very sensitive and pick up on human anxiety.
6) Try offering a toy or puzzle that will keep your dog occupied. A puzzle that requires a dog to retrieve treats can be particularly entertaining.
7) If you live in an area where you are likely to have lots of trick or treaters, keep your dog away from the front door to avoid any chance of escaping. You might want to disable the door bell and leave a sign asking visitors to either, knock quietly (probably wouldn't work in our home!) or not visit at all.
8) If you need to let your dog out in your garden for toileting, make sure it has no escape routes. If the worst should happen and your dog manages to escape, make sure your dog is microchipped and that the microchip details are up to date. This makes it much easier to reunite a dog and its owner. As of April 2016 it is a legal requirement to microchip your dog.
9) If you and your family are going to be wearing costumers or masks yourselves, try introducing these to your dog a few days before. Through the evening, remove any masks now and then so your dog can see it's still you! If your dog becomes distressed by any parts of the costumes, place them out of sight.
10) If your dog is one who will be stressed despite your best efforts, you may want to contact your vet. They may be able to provide more advice and possibly medication to help reduce your dog's anxiety.
Hide the sweets!
You may be aware that chocolate and sweet things like raisins are poisonous for dogs, in some cases even fatal. Chocolate contains an ingredient called Theobromine. It can cause problems with the heart, vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs metabolise chocolate much slower than us humans so you may not see signs for a while after ingestion.
Many sweets contain the low calorie sweetener Xylitol which in some cases has proved to be more poisonous than chocolate. Dogs which have eaten food containing Xylitol are at risk of developing hypoglycaemia ( low blood sugar level) seizures, liver failure and death.
Spooky Halloween Decorations
To help create a spooky atmosphere, some of you may be lighting candles and carving pumpkins into wonderful masterpieces.
Dogs are often attracted to bright lights especially in a darken environment. Ensure candles are not at a level where they can be investigated by a curious canine or knocked with a wagging tail. Never leave your dog unattended with a lit candle even if it is inside a pumpkin.
Never force a dog to wear a Halloween costume.
Have your vets contact details handy if you are worried about your dog having eaten something it shouldn’t or just need advice.
You know your dog better than anyone and will know what to put into place to make Halloween stress free for them as well as yourselves.