Who doesn’t love Halloween? Dressing up, trick-or-treat, pumpkin carving; so much fun. But the ringing doorbells, unfamiliar people, and frightening masks can create high anxiety for some pets.
To help reduce your pet’s stress, try disconnecting your doorbell and using a motion sensor for the night. Or you could bring the fun to the trick-or-treaters by setting up a candy station on your porch or in your driveway. Have fun and decorate the space for your neighbors to enjoy. Some pets may be happiest if they are set up in a quiet room with toys, an article of your clothing, and treats.
Halloween scares are part of the fun for people, but not for pets. If you are planning on wearing a costume or dressing up your pet, do a dress rehearsal before the event. Introduce them to your new look while giving yummy treats and praise to create a positive association with the costume. If you want to dress your pet up for Halloween, let them sniff and investigate the costume before slowly dressing them; treats and praise are important here too. Wearing a costume isn’t for everyone. Remove it if your pet seems scared (tail tucked, ears back, trembling, whimpering, growling, pulling to get away, etc.).
Keep you pet safe this Halloween. On of the greatest risks is having a pet dart outside when you answer the door. Leashes, crates, or pre-segregation in a room can help prevent a tragedy. Be sure to supervise a pet while wearing a costume, as the costume itself can become a hazard if they chew on it or get tangled up in it. And remember to keep candy away from your pets. Every year, our urgent care docs are kept busy seeing pets vomiting and diarrhea after eating Halloween candy. Some candy, like chocolate or candy containing the sweetener xylitol, can be highly toxic to pets.
Dr. Kuehn graduated from the University of Minnesota and joined Friendship in 2005. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and serves as Friendships Chief of Primary Care. Her interests include endocrinology, urinary tract disease, ophthalmology, and soft tissue injury.