This Halloween the ISPCA are reminding Longford owners to consider their pets’ safety and wellbeing both inside and outside the home.
With trick-or-treaters, fireworks, bonfires, and all the sweet treats around, your pet may find itself in a sticky situation if you are not careful.
Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and other sweets can be harmful as well, so please keep all treats out of reach for their safety. The same goes for candles and Halloween decorations that could be chewed or swallowed, so when you are enjoying the festivities, keep everything away from your animals.
During the Halloween festivities there are often celebrations that can be stressful to your pets, including fireworks or bonfires, and the ISPCA would recommend walking you dog earlier than usual to avoid evening festivities if possible. This will not only avoid encountering stressful situations on your walk, but will also mean that your dog will be ready for a rest in the evening and may not be as reactive to the doorbell and commotion later.
The unusual noise and activity of Halloween can drive pets to extreme behaviour, and the ISPCA strongly recommend that you have all your pets microchipped as a permanent form of identification. This is a legal requirement for all dogs and equines, and while it is not required for cats it still gives you the best chance of being reunited with your beloved pet in the event that they escape or get loose.
To reduce the risk of your pet escaping when people call to the door, ensure that they are in a secure room of the house where they can’t slip out an open door. You can leave a TV or radio on to drown out some of the noise of fireworks and children calling to the door.
If you pet is truly terrified of fireworks and you are concerned about them, you may want to consult with your vet in advance, and ask them about training or medication to help with your pets’ stress.
Halloween is a dangerous time for our wonderful wildlife as well, so do your part to keep hedgehogs and other animals safe. Hedgehogs are beginning to hibernate at this time of year, and frequently do so in wood piles or heavy brush. If you are lighting a bonfire, please check all wood, scrub and leaves for hibernating hedgehogs.
Unfortunately stray animals can sometimes bear the brunt of Halloween pranks. If you witness an animal being subjected to cruel treatment, please notify your local Gardaí immediately and contact the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline in confidence on 1890 515 515.
Below are some additional tips to keep pets safe and calm on Halloween.
Please remember to keep pets confined in a safe area, away from the front door, sweets and treats, candles, and other hazards.
When it comes to dogs and cats, 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.
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.
Steps can be taken to minimise the stress caused to pets by training them in the run up to the Halloween festivities. This can involve training like playing sounds of fireworks at lower volumes and rewarding your pet for calm behaviour, slowly increasing the volume leading up to Halloween. Consult your vet or animal behaviourist for advice.
Anxiety in your animals can be reduced by altering feeding regimes. Feeding later in the evening will encourage the animal to eat during anxiety triggering 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 from escaping or doing damage to themselves.