Every year, pet owners shiver in dread at the thought of Halloween approaching.
While many people look forward to Halloween approaching, it can be a much-dreaded occasion for many pets and pet owners. The noise and flashing lights of fireworks can trigger a fight or flight response in many pets and ultimately can result in panicked behaviour.
To prepare for Halloween this year, here are five steps you can follow that may make the occasion a little more tolerable for your furry friends.
1) Soundproof your house as much as possible
This means close all windows, doors and all curtains and blinds. If you have a dog who is crate-trained, you may want to place some blankets over the crate to muffle any noise and create a safe den that they may be inclined to retreat to.
For rabbits, bring them indoors if you can, but if this isn’t possible, putting some blankets over their hutch can help to muffle the noise and block flashing lights. Rabbits also burrow when they get scared, so putting extra bedding into the hutch will allow them to feel safer.
2) De-sensitise Your Pet to Firework Noises
Starting a few months before bonfire night, you could try de-sensitising your pet to firework noises. You can find many firework playlists on apps like Spotify and YouTube, which can help them get used to the noise, especially if your pet is very young or reactive.
However, if the noise is proving to be too traumatic, make sure you stop immediately and try to reassure them.
If the noise of the fireworks is too traumatising for them, you could try playing classical music over the night itself. A study by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA has shown that dogs show fewer signs of stress and have less variation in heart rate when played classical music.
If you don’t have access to classical music, just turning the television up a few notches can help to maintain their normal routine during the evening.
3) Bring Them Inside Before Dark
For pets that require walking like dogs, make sure you take them out in the afternoon, before any fireworks begin, and before dark.
Make sure to let cats in before dark and create a safe place for them to hide if they need to, don’t try and tempt an anxious cat from its hiding space.
Make sure your pets are microchipped and (if applicable) wearing a collar and tag just in case they make a panicked escape.
4) Distraction is Key
If pets are scared and want to hide, it’s important don’t force them to leave where they feel safe, unless their hiding place of choice puts them in danger.
However, for some pets, distraction through play or mental stimulation can help to take their mind off what’s going on outside.
For dogs, try encouraging chewing exercises on something suitable like a Nylabone, or filling up a Kong toy with tasty treats. You could also try and tire them out with fetch or tug-of-war in the house if they thrive on exercise.
For cats, try to treat them as normal, stroking them if they make contact with you. You could try hiding some of their favourite treats in a snuffle mat instead or play with them using their favourite toys.
5) Talk to our team.
Every furry friend is different, and it’s essential to shape your response around your pet’s needs. Test some solutions out beforehand and find what works best.
Don’t forget that you can also contact our pet hospital for some advice from our team of experts if you need it.