By Karen Fazio, CDBC
Each Halloween our pets witness very weird situations… Adults and children begin sprouting objects from their bodies (hats, cloaks, sticks, candy bags), friendly faces morph into strangers (masks and makeup), and they hear all sorts of odd sounds. One of the spookiest experiences for most is the monsters (trick-or-treaters) who threaten to enter the pet’s homes (approach the front door) unless they are shooed away by their owners (give them candy).
Halloween is a fun thrill for most of us, but it can be a really scary experience for a lot of household pets. This is especially true if these pets weren’t exposed to similar experiences while preparing pets for Halloween in a pleasant way when they were puppies or kittens. For example, during the socialization period (8- 12-weeks for dogs, 2-7 weeks for cats) a pet who was played with or handed treats by children during a Halloween party may never be frightened of costumed youngsters as an adult. However, if the pet wasn’t afforded proper socialization, it will likely grow up to be terrified or even aggressive in response to such experiences.
In order to help all pets through Halloween, here are some ways to make the holiday less scary and dangerous:
- Store all candy in a secure location, away from the reach of pets
- Keep Halloween decorations away from curious cats or dogs who may be tempted to destroy and ingest them.
- Exercise pets by walking dogs and playing with cats two hours before trick-or-treaters start hitting the streets
- Disconnect the doorbell, and sit outside to greet trick-or-treaters. This will prevent strangers from approaching the front door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door.
- Provide the pet with a secure room in the home with food, water, toys and white noise such as turning on the radio or television to drown out scary sounds until trick-or-treating ends.
- If the pet is extremely fearful, consider daycare, or crate them in their secure quiet room to prevent them from injuring themselves
- If dogs are allowed to accompany their owners outdoors be sure to leash them to prevent the them from running away if they become startled
- Be sure that any outdoor cats are confined indoors for the night.
- When out of candy, put a highly visible and legible “Out of Candy” sign on the front door
- The following morning be careful that pets don’t ingest discarded candy or wrappers tossed on the ground by trick-or-treaters
Following these tips may help make you and your pet’s Halloween a much safer and enjoyable experience!