Halloween is here! But while it’s enjoyable for us to dress up and trick-or-treat, it can be quite scary for pets and wildlife. Dr. Gary Weitzman (veterinarian and president of San Diego Humane Society), Innovet Pet and Pet Releaf are all offering tips to keep both wildlife and pets safe, calm and happy on the spookiest day of the year.
Dr. Weitzman advises to avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts. Be sure to keep jack-o-lanterns with flames out of reach of your pets or use flameless candles to prevent curious pets from getting burned. Also, use caution with fake cobwebs and other decorations that could be a choking hazard for your pet and wildlife. You should also avoid decorations with loops or closed circles as a foraging animal can inadvertently choke itself.
2. Use caution with pet costumes
According to Pet Releaf, many pet costumes can only fun for the pet parents and not the pet. Dogs and cats often don’t like extra materials put on them, so be sure to check them and observe how they respond to the costume, ensuring it doesn’t add any more stress to an already-scary holiday. Dr. Weitzman adds that a simple Halloween bandana can be a more comfortable alternative to a full costume.
With dogs, a tucked tail is a common sign of stress that shows it is uneasy but not dangerous, where raised fur on their back is a sign that the dog may turn aggressive. Along with a tucked tail, moderate signs of stress include restlessness and pacing, and these do not necessarily mean the dog needs to leave the situation. However, signs such as trembling, baring teeth and urination are a dog’s way of saying they are too stressed. All pets are different, so you must become familiar with the severity of your pet’s stress signs.
4. Encourage door etiquette
According to Dr. Weitzman, excessive ringing of the doorbell can make some dogs bark and raise pet stress levels. Consider leaving a note on your door that asks trick-or-treaters to lightly knock rather than ring the doorbell. Pet Releaf also echoes this by suggesting to place the candy bowl on your doorstep. This way your pet won’t get anxious from the noise or unknown visitors at the door, and kids can just freely take the candy outside instead. Of course, don’t forget the classic “Please Take Only One” sign (or two if you are feeling generous)!
Dr. Weitzman suggests keeping pets in an enclosed room with their favorite toys and with the television or radio on to help reduce stress levels. Pet Releaf agrees, adding that the goal is to create a comfortable space for your pet to spend their time when there’s commotion at the door. Pet Releaf also suggests taking your dog for a walk and giving extra exercise for your cat on the morning of Halloween so that by the end of the day they might be tired and a little calmer.
6. Offer CBD products to help calm pets
Innovet Pet offers several CBD options, including soft chews for small and older dogs, as well as its PURCBD Oil tincture, which Innovet recommends for first-time users. It also recommends administering CBD one to two hours before trick-or-treating starts. If your pet has never taken CBD before, for full effects, you may need to administer CBD once a day for about a week out. All of Pet Releaf’s CBD hemp oils have different potencies and recommended usages based on your pet’s weight. And if you aren’t sure about using CBD oil for your pet, Pet Releaf’s Edibites for dogs and Edibits for cats are a tasty and effective alternative. Some may see results in 30-45 minutes, but it recommends starting two days early to get the best results for Halloween night.
7. ID your pet and reward good behavior
Pet Releaf believes that while kids are getting candy from their trick-or-treating adventures, make sure your pet is being rewarded with their favorite snack when they are calm. You can also provide your dog with a bone or long-lasting chew to keep them occupied and distracted from the excitement outside. And Dr. Weitzman encourages pets be microchipped and wearing up-to-date ID tags in case the constant opening of the door leads to a pet escape. ID tags and microchips will help make finding pets easier.
8. Stay safe even after Halloween ends
Dr. Weitzman reminds that candy, and the plastic it’s wrapped in, can be hazardous to pets and wild animals. Be sure to dispose of all candy and candy wrappers properly and not leave it out where animals can find it. Also, carved pumpkins can be attractive to wildlife as food so it’s important to dispose of them if you don’t want unwanted guests post-Halloween. An alternative to throwing out pumpkins is donating them to Project Wildlife. The pumpkins are used for enrichment for raccoons, providing stimuli to enhance their well-being while also allowing them to practice foraging behavior before they’re released back into the wild.
Keep these tips in mind so you and your pet can have a stress-free Halloween.