Halloween is upon us, and alongside the usual hordes of hungry trick-or-treaters pet-owners have to keep their furry-friends safe from harm.
“Firecrackers, fireworks and other loud noises, as well as plenty of little-people traffic in and out of the house can be upsetting to animals, and even lead to harm,” says Lorie Chortyk, BC SPCA general manager of community relations.
It was an issue that was brought to the public’s attention over the weekend as a Chow-Labrador cross named Maggie died on the SkyTrain tracks in Vancouver after being scared by fireworks.
It’s a tragic example of the risks faced by animals on Halloween.
“Fireworks going off, a constantly ringing doorbell and the presence of costumed strangers can all cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger,” says Chortyk.
“When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people,” she adds.
So how can you ensure that your animals are safe from harm this Halloween? The BC SPCA offers the following advice on their website:
Keep pets inside
Pets who are inside have fewer opportunities to confront trick-or-treaters. Some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks and trick-or-treaters. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so that he doesn’t think he’s being isolated as a punishment. If your pet finds the doorbell disturbing, consider disconnecting the doorbell for the night. Alternatively, you can leave a bowl of treats near the door outside where trick-or-treaters can help themselves. That way, they won’t knock or ring the doorbell – at least not until the bowl is emptied.
Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Dogs and cats may try to run away if they feel threatened. Clear, current identification is your best chance to have them returned to you.
Candy is for people
Candy can lead to health problems such as diabetes or obesity, and chocolate is especially dangerous because it contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Keep treats well away from your pets.
Leave home without them
If you think it would be fun to bring your pet trick-or-treating, your pet may not share your view. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween can cause a normally friendly dog to bite if it feels scared or threatened.
Don’t costume your pet
Dressing your dog in a costume inhibits their ability to communicate, making them prone to display aggression or be subjected to aggressive behaviour from other dogs.