Halloween and the period leading up to it can be a frightening and confusing time for many dogs. Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright and sadly this combination of effects can often have a profoundly negative impact on some dogs. In fact, research carried out on behalf of Dogs Trust, Ireland’s largest dog welfare charity, found that 52%* of dog owners describe their dogs as being quite or very frightened by fireworks and bangers.
If your dog is feeling scared or nervous, the charity has put together some tips you can do to help make sure your dog doesn’t get too upset or injure themselves in a panic.
Walk your dog before it gets dark to avoid fireworks and flashing lights and to make sure he is well exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.
Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as he may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Halloween, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table. Close the curtains, turn the lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises.
Don’t leave your dog alone outdoors during the Halloween period, scared dogs can make desperate attempts to escape and there is the danger of him being injured.
Be extra careful when opening the door as your dog may escape; if possible, try to ensure there is another closed door between your dog and your front door.
Never force your dog to wear a dog costume – loosely tied festive doggie bandanas are usually more acceptable for dogs.
Do not force your dog to receive any unwanted attention even from family members, as they may not recognise people in costumes.
Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and that his microchip details are up to date via fido.ie in case he escapes.
Speaking about Halloween, Head of Operations at Dogs Trust, Karla Dunne said:
“Halloween can unfortunately be a terrifying and confusing experience for some dogs. Dogs’ hearing is approximately four times more sensitive than us humans and they can hear much higher frequency sounds than people, so you can imagine how loud the whizz, pop and bang of fireworks can be for dogs! We are asking people to please think twice about taking their dogs ‘trick or treating’ as the extra excitement around the event and meeting strangers may cause them distress.
We are also reminding people to keep treats and sweets away from your furry friends. Chocolate, raisins, grapes and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything he shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours’ emergency number on your phone.”
Although Dogs Trust does not recommend taking your dog Trick or Treating, that does not mean your dog needs to be left out of the fun. As well as keeping your dog safe, it is important to ensure that you can make the night as enjoyable as possible by keeping him distracted with treats and games. Give your dog a Kong or K9 Connectables jam packed with tasty goodies, which will help keep him busy and calm.