With Halloween around the corner it’s a good time to think about the animals in your household and their safety that night. All those weird loud noises as well as the little people traffic in and out of your home can be upsetting to your pet and can even lead to harm.
“Fireworks going off, a constantly ringing doorbell and the presence of costumed strangers can all cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger,” says Lorie Chortyk, BC SPCA general manager of community relations.
When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people, says Chortyk.
It’s not only companion animals are at risk. “Frightened farm animals have even been known to run into barbed-wire fences or other obstructions. With a little planning, guardians can take steps to keep their all their animals safe on Halloween,” says Chortyk.
The BC SPCA offers these Halloween safety tips:
Keep pets inside
Pets who are inside have fewer opportunities to confront trick-or-treaters. Some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks and trick-or-treaters. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so that he doesn’t think he’s being isolated as a punishment. If your pet finds the doorbell disturbing, consider disconnecting the doorbell for the night. Alternatively, you can leave a bowl of treats near the door outside where trick-or-treaters can help themselves. That way, they won’t knock or ring the doorbell – at least not until the bowl is emptied.
Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Dogs and cats may try to run away if they feel threatened. Clear, current identification is your best chance to have them returned to you
Don’t console your anxious pet
While it is natural to want to comfort your pet, it is better to use a bright, cheerful voice to send a message that things are fine. Avoid saying things like, “it’s OK” or “don’t be scared” in a soft or sympathetic voice. This only reinforces your pet’s fearful behaviour. For more information, review our fact sheet on reducing anxiousness in dogs.
Candy is for people
Candy can lead to health problems such as diabetes or obesity, and chocolate is especially dangerous because it contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Keep treats well away from your pets.
Leave home without them
If you think it would be fun to bring your pet trick-or-treating, your pet may not share your view. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween can cause a normally friendly dog to bite if it feels scared or threatened.
Don’t costume your pet
Dressing your dog in a costume inhibits his ability to communicate, making him prone to display aggression himself or be subjected to aggressive behaviour from other dogs.
Visit spca.bc.ca for more information on Halloween pet safety.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.