Halloween hazards and how to prevent them

Halloween is coming up! An exciting celebration where we all experience spooky themed fun along with our neighbourhood. Unfortunately, Halloween is a time that can be truly scary and horrifying for our pets rather than fun.

Fireworks - many domestic animals’ hearing is much, much, much better than ours. They hear everything so much clearer and louder than we do. This makes fireworks extremely painful for their ears! It is important to limit the amount of noise exposure that our pets experience. Keep your pets indoors.

We would recommend ensuring you keep your cats indoors throughout the Halloween period because so many pets go missing each year around this time. This does not just involve Halloween night, but the days before and after Halloween when celebrations may also be taking place. Many pets run away when they get frightened, as part of a natural fear response. Therefore, you must make sure you keep the collar on your pet so if they do go missing, the chances of them being returned is increased - or even better, make sure they’re microchipped.

Dressing your pet up may irritate, or even harm, them. Make sure you do not leave your pet unattended wearing fancy dress. They may choke on any dangly parts or even choke on any decoration that they decide to play with. If you feel you need to dress your pet up, you should try the outfit out on your pet before the night to see whether they like wearing it or not - and if they seem AT ALL unhappy, maybe give it a miss. Halloween is already a very stressful, noisy time for our pets, we do not want to cause extra unnecessary anxiety for them if we can help it.

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Pets may get caught and trapped on decorations so again, please make sure you know the whereabouts of your pet. If you are leaving your house, make sure you leave your pet in a secure, familiar location. Pets should always be supervised in new environments.

Some pets can have allergic reactions to certain materials or new treats. Allergic reactions occur when allergens (often specific proteins in food) reach a certain threshold. It is therefore important to minimise the number of unusual materials and treats in one night, as this reduces the risk of having an allergic reaction. If you notice excessive itching, redness of the skin, or watery eyes, be sure to contact a vet. If they’re panting or struggling for breath, make that an emergency call.

Trick or treat - we should be doing neither to our pets! Make sure all goodies (sweets and chocolate especially) are kept out of reach of your pets. Remember cocoa is toxic to cats and dogs. Dark chocolate is the most toxic for pets and white chocolate is the least toxic, but can still cause a nasty stomach upset. The toxic dose varies based on the size of your pet and the concentration of theobromine (the toxic ingredient) within the chocolate that has been ingested. The sooner you get your pet to the vets following toxin ingestion, the better the prognosis for your pet so remember to act quickly! Many pets enjoy eating the wrappers too, which will not be digested properly and may cause a blockage. Some pets get sweets stuck in their fur which can lead to matting of the fur. This is very stressful and can be very painful for your pets.

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Answering the door - For many people, Halloween is the time of year where we make ourselves look as scary as possible. Our pets may feel intimidated and frightened by people’s fancy dress and people wearing masks. When pets are scared, they will defend themselves and this often involves growling, snarling and potentially biting. We advise you to prevent your pet from greeting guests and keep them in a secure room so they are away from any frights!

If your pet shows any signs of anxiety, you should leave them to settle alone in a room where nobody can disturb them or if they prefer being in company, ensure they are not surrounded by people in fancy dress. The room should be quiet, dark and comfortable. 

Pumpkins, candles and bonfires - ensure all pumpkins are out of reach of animals. Pets may find them fun to play with. Bonfires and lit candles can burn your pets which could scar them (both mentally and physically) for life or even cause fatality. If your pet runs past the pumpkins or candles knocking them over, they may start a fire which could be very dangerous for yourselves as well as your neighbourhood.

Glow sticks are becoming more and more popular. Again, these bright coloured toys are interesting to our pets but the chemicals inside can irritate if ingested, so be sure to keep them away from your pet.

Halloween is a time of year, which can be enjoyed by all. We do, however, need to take relevant precautions to make sure our pets can enjoy it just as much as we do!