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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 24 November 2020
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Are you a pet owner? Here's some advice on keeping them safe and content this Halloween

With lots of loud noises going off, many people will be keeping a closer eye on their dogs and other pets.

Image: Shutterstock/Grigorita Ko

BETWEEN FIREWORK DISPLAYS, spooky-themed events and fancy dress parties, Halloween is often considered a fun time of year.

However, it can be a scary time for animals, with cats and dogs stressed by unusual noises, unfamiliar visitors and loud bangs.

There are many extra risks for pets this time of year, and experts have highlighted how important it is for owners to be aware of what these are and how to plan around them.

“While we all enjoy the festivities of Halloween, many pets and wildlife find this time of the year terrifying,” ISPCA public relations manager Carmel Murray said. 

Murray said it is important that pets have a secure place to hide indoors if they are frightened by the noises of fireworks and trick-or-treaters calling to the door. 

Leaving the lights low and playing the radio or television can help drown out some of the sounds from things such as fireworks, she added. 

Help your pets during Halloween

The ISPCA has said pet owners can help train their dogs and cats to become accustomed to the sounds of Halloween fireworks by playing similar sounds at low levels. 

As difficult as it may be, try not to react to your pet showing signs of fear as it may be the best way you can help them, the charity said. 

Licking objects such as kong toys filled with treats may help ease your pet’s stress. If they are up for it, playing with them may also be a welcome distraction, but don’t force it if your pet is too upset to play. 

If you are concerned that your pet is unmanageably terrified of the noise of fireworks, the ISPCA advises that you should consult your vet to discuss ways for managing your pet’s stress.

Outdoor pets including small mammals or birds should also be brought indoors into a secure garage or shed where they can be secure from any loud noise or fireworks. You can also cover hutches or cages with blankets to act as sound-proofing.

Microchipping

The ISPCA is also strongly recommending that all dog owners have their pets microchipped. 

“It is important our pets are kept safe in a secure room where they cannot dart out an open door,” Murray said. 

If your pet becomes lost, having them microchipped is the best way to ensure they will be reunited with you as it’s the first thing a veterinary practice, rescue centre or dog warden do is to scan your pet for a microchip.

“If your pet manages to escape, it is important they are wearing an ID tag plus they should be microchipped which is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old,” she said.

“Pets that have been found will be scanned for a microchip which holds the pet owners contact details so it is important this information is kept up to date.”

While microchipping is recommended for all cat owners as well as dogs, there are no current plans to make microchipping compulsory for cats.

Keep sweets and decorations out of reach

Dogs and cats should be kept away from sweets and Halloween decorations. 

Chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to pets, as are any sweets containing the sugar substitute xylitol.

Ingesting foil or plastic wrappers can also lead to digestive problems and may require surgery.

If your pet does ingest something toxic, contact your vet immediately.

Costumes may not be fun for your pets

No all pets will tolerate wearing costumes and it may cause them undue stress, the ISPCA highlighted.

Only dress up your pet for Halloween if you know they enjoy it, the charity said.

“Halloween themed bandanas can be less restrictive so if you do choose to put your pet in a costume, make sure it does not limit the animal’s movement, vision, ability to breathe or behave normally,” it said.

“Also ensure any costume doesn’t have any small, chewable pieces or toxic paints or dyes.”

People wearing Halloween costumes can be equally as scary to pets.

Masks or other costume accessories may trigger their territorial instincts. While people might enjoy being spooked during the Halloween festivities, it’s not fun for pets.

If your pet is scared, ensure they are in a separate room and safe place.

Look out for wildlife

It’s not just family pets that people should be aware of during the Halloween period. 

Hedgehogs go into hibernation this time of year, and will sleep in wood piles or heavy scrub and leaves.

The ISPCA said it is important you check under all wood piles before lighting any bonfires to ensure there is no wildlife hibernating.

“Some outdoor decorations such a fake spider webs or string lights can snare wild animals, so be careful about hanging them and remove them after the festivities,” the charity said. 

Report animal cruelty

And finally, it’s important to note that stray animals can fall victim to abuse or cruel Halloween pranks. 

If you witness animal cruelty, the ISPCA is asking that you contact your local garda station immediately and the charity’s national animal cruelty helpline on 1890 515 515 or to report it online here

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