The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has issued a set of guidelines to ensure your pets remain safe during the Halloween festivities.
Each year, animal centres and veterinary practices are inundated with animals needing attention following Halloween celebrations - some with injuries, others driven to extreme behaviour by the noise of bangers and fireworks. Pet owners are advised to take the following steps:
* Steps can be taken to minimise the stress caused to pets by training them in the run up to the Halloween festivities. The use of dog appeasing pheromones can also be effective. Consult your vet or animal behaviourist for advice.
* If children will be calling to your door trick-or-treating make sure your pets are securely confined so they cannot stray through an open door or react negatively to scary costumes.
* Pets should have somewhere to hide where they feel secure if frightened by the noise of bangers or fireworks so a quiet room in the house will help with closed curtains and music playing to mask the noise of fireworks.
* Keep pets away from any dangerous or flammable items including candles, bonfires and fireworks.
* Keep pets away from decorations and sweets that could be harmful if ingested. Remember that chocolate is very bad for your pets. * If your pet is showing signs of fear do not react or make a fuss as this will make matters worse. As difficult as it may be, try to ignore fearful behaviour.
* Anxiety in the animal can be reduced by altering feeding regimes. Feeding later in the evening will encourage the animal to eat during what are anxiety creating periods.
* Licking objects such as Kongs filled with peanut butter will help reduce stress.
* Playing with your pets can be effective in reducing stress if they are up for a game. If not, do not try to force them.
* Small animals and birds normally housed outside should ideally be moved into a garage or shed. If this is not possible cover hutches or cages with blankets or carpet to act as sound-proofing.
* Provide increased amounts of bedding for extra security.
* Horses, ponies and donkeys that live in areas where there is a considerable amount of Halloween related noise should be securely stabled to prevent them doing damage to themselves.
* Bonfires around the Halloween period can be a dangerous time for wildlife too – anyone holding bonfires should check them before lighting, as hedgehogs love to nest amongst the wood and material.
The ISPCA encourages owners to have their pets ID-tagged and microchipped in case they become scared and try to escape, and the society also encourages anyone who witnesses acts of cruelty towards animals to contact the Gardai and the ISPCA’s National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.