Guest blogger and behavior specialist, Jenn Fiendish, CVT, VTS (Behavior), discusses important things to keep in mind while educating clients this Halloween:
We all know the dangers of chocolate and pets, but what about the anxiety or fear that your pet might feel from having all of his family and friends turned into flesh eating zombies? While very good at recognizing the faces and shapes of everyday people, they don’t readily recognize us underneath all the makeup and masks. Costumes change our appearance, which can be disturbing to animals and cause them fear and anxiety. Paired with the constant ringing of the doorbell and screaming mummies when it’s opened your pet just might go into overload. Some pets may choose to hide when faced with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, others though might get so frightened that they lash out like the Wolfman and bite someone. Ouch!
To keep everyone safe this ‘Howl-O-Ween’ here are a few tips from myself and my costume crazy dog, Stitch.
- Even calm and friendly animals can get scared on Halloween, so it’s best to leave them at home for the night while you go trick or treating.
- If you’re staying home to hand out candy or have a party, create a safe spot in a room or crate for your pet to stay in while the festivities are occurring. This will keep them safe and out of situations they may find scary.
- Turn on some music or the tv (perhaps The Nightmare Before Christmas?) to help drown out the noises of the doorbell and yelling children.
- Advise your children that when their costume is on, they should leave Rover and Fluffy be.
- Although I find pets in costumes to be ADORABLE, they can actually be uncomfortable and scary for your pet. That Dracula costume may look great but make sure it fits your pet properly and remove it at any sign that it is causing stress or discomfort.
- Even though your pet is staying home, it’s a good idea for them to wear their ID tags. It’s not uncommon for pets to get so scared that they run way and this is the best way to get them back!
- If your pet is already an anxious kind of guy (or ghoul) and is reactive of the doorbell, strange people, or other noises, ask your veterinarian about medication options that can help keep him calm during the evening. If you’d rather try a holistic approach, options such as the Thundershirt, Adaptil/Feliway pheromone products, and over the counter anti-anxiety supplements may be useful.
Have a safe and happy Howl-O-Ween!