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Vet advice: Hallowe'en trick, treat or trauma?


Hallowe'en can be a scary time for pets

Hallowe'en can be a scary time for pets

Hallowe'en can be a scary time for pets

Hallowe’en is a fun time for humans, but for pets, it can be a nightmare.

Loud whistles and bangs, a kaleidoscope of flashing lights from fireworks and continuous knocking at the door by little trick or treaters wearing strange costumes can make this holiday a traumatic time for all pets; particularly cats, dogs, bunnies, cows and horses.

We’ve all heard the stories of pranksters who will tease, torment or even torture animals at Hallowe’en and I’m sure this year will prove no different, but here at the Dublin SPCA most of the cases we deal with are pets who have got lost and knocked down when they have been scared by fireworks and bangers.

So, with that in mind, I’ve put together some hints and tips that should help keep your pet safe this Hallowe’en.

As soon as it starts to get dark, keep your pet indoors.

Animals have a heightened sense of smell, sight and sound; and once they hear a loud bang, will often panic, become disorientated, bolt out the door and be unable to find their way home. (Make sure your pet is micro-chipped as you have a greater chance of being reunited with them if they get lost. Always ensure that dogs are wearing collars with discs).

Keep the animal in an interior room – i.e. a bathroom, utility room or cloakroom and draw the blinds.

Keep a radio or TV on in order to distract from loud bangs and leave a light on so that flashing lights aren’t as noticeable.

If your pet looks for reassurance, please don’t do this! I know it goes against our humane nature, but it’s best to carry on in a matter of fact manner, as if nothing is out of the ordinary, as your pet may feed off your anxiety, making the situation worse.

Sweets and chocolates are not good for pets; in fact, chocolate is toxic to animals so please don’t feed them unsuitable treats. Sweet paper, cellophane and tin foil are also a choking hazard if swallowed.

Take care around lit pumpkins and candles as curious pets may knock them over, running the risk of being burned and/or causing a house fire.

Unless your pet loves being dressed up, don’t put them in a costume as this can add to their stress and anxiety.

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Remember, large animals living in nearby fields, such as cows and horses hate scary noises. So, if you’re planning on having a fireworks display, and have secured your own domestic pets, please be sure to take other animals into consideration.

Talk to your local vet about different medications on offer to ease your pet’s distress.

For further info, make an appointment with your vet or log onto www.dspca.ie

In future, Natalia will be answering some reader petcare queries through her column. If you have a petcare question for Natalia, email her at vetadvice@gmail.com.

Please note, Natalia cannot reply to emails or answer queries personally and you should always consult your veterinary surgeon directly in cases of ill-health or injury to your pet.