While most of us might enjoy the spooks and sweets to Halloween, for our pets and wildlife this time of year can be nothing less than frightful.
The ISPCA reminds people as we approach Halloween to be aware of the dangers the holiday poses to their pets, and take extra measures if needed to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of animals both domestic and wild.
ISPCA Public Relations Manager Carmel Murray said: “There are some simple steps that pet owners should consider in the run up to Halloween for example ensuring your pets always have somewhere safe and secure and preferably keep them indoors during the festivities. Noises such as fireworks, parties or trick-or-treaters can drive our pets to extreme behaviour and if they do escape, it puts extra pressure on animal rescue centres, dog pounds and veterinary practices and causes such upset for animals and owners”.
- It is strongly recommended that owners ensure their pets are micro-chipped (this is a legal requirement for dogs) and have I.D. tags. During the flurry of activity on Halloween night, it is best to keep any but the most social dogs or cats in a quiet, secure room where they cannot dart out the open door. Micro-chipping is the best way to ensure that a lost pet will be returned to you.
Help your pet deal with stress
- Pets should have a secure place to hide if they are frightened by the noise of fireworks or people calling to the door. Leaving the lights low, and playing the radio or television quietly can help drown out some of the stressful sounds.
- Owners can also train their pets to become accustomed to the sounds of Halloween by playing sounds of fireworks at low volumes, and gradually increasing as the night draws nearer.
- As difficult as it may be, not reacting to your pet showing signs of fear may be the best way to help them. Licking objects such as toys filled with peanut butter may help ease your pet’s stress. If they are up for it, playing with them may also be a welcome distraction, but don’t force it if your pet is too upset to play.
- If you are concerned that your pet is truly, unmanageably terrified of the noise this time of year, you may want to consult your vet in advance to discuss ways for managing your pet’s stress.
- Outdoor pets including small mammals or birds should also be brought indoors or into a secure garage or shed where they can be shielded from any loud noise or fireworks. If this isn’t possible, you can also cover hutches or cages with blankets to act as sound-proofing.
- Horses, ponies and donkeys should also be microchipped, and those that live in areas with a considerable amount of Halloween-related noise should be securely stabled to prevent them from escaping or hurting themselves.
Keep decorations and sweets out of reach
- Dogs and cats should be kept away from the bowl of sweets as well as some Halloween decorations.
- Chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to pets, as are any sweets containing the sugar substitute xylitol. Ingesting foil or plastic wrappers can also lead to digestive problems and may require surgery.
- Similarly, candles and other decorations pose a risk, particularly for cats who may knock them over or be singed by a flame. Other decorations can also be chewed or swallowed, so ensure they are out of reach of curious paws or noses.
- If your pet does ingest something toxic, contact your vet immediately.
Costumes are fun for us, but may not be for our pets
- Not all pets will tolerate wearing costumes, and it may cause them undue stress. Only dress up your pet for Halloween if you know they enjoy it.
- If you do choose to put your pet in a costume, make sure it does not limit the animal’s movement, vision, ability to breathe or behave normally. Also ensure the costume doesn’t have any small, chewable pieces or toxic paints or dyes.
- Costumes on people can be equally scary to pets. People donning masks or other costume accessories may be distressing or trigger their territorial instincts. While people might enjoy being scared on Halloween, your pets don’t know costumes are make-believe. If your pet is scared of a costume, ensure they are in a separate room or safe place before you dress up.
Look out for wildlife
- Hedgehogs are going into hibernation this time of year, and will go to sleep in wood piles or heavy brush. Ensure you check all wood, scrub and leaves before lighting any bonfires.
- Some outdoor decorations such a fake spider webs or string lights can snare wild animals, so be careful about hanging them.
- Drivers should stay vigilant this time or year for animals that may have been spooked by fireworks or other noise and activity.
Report animal cruelty – ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515
Unfortunately stray animals can fall victim to abuse or cruel Halloween pranks. If you witness animal cruelty, notify your local Garda station immediately and contact the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.