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'Don't dress your pets up' and other helpful advice heading into Halloween night

Most pets have much more sensitive hearing than humans, so are particularly vulnerable to fireworks.

THE IRISH SOCIETY for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is reminding owners to take particular care of their pets this Halloween. 

Keeping pets indoors on Halloween night is strongly advised, the ISPCA says. 

The alarm caused by fireworks leads to many missing pets each year, as they try to escape from the noise, which they can find “terrifying,” according to the animal cruelty charity.

As a result, they are urging owners to keep pets in a secure indoor environment and make sure they are microchipped so that if they do escape, they can be traced.

The ISPCA also advises owners against dressing their pets in costumes, saying that they can cause them stress and “restrict them in showing their natural behaviour”.

Also keep an eye out for chocolate and sweets, they warn. Chocolate contains theobromine, and many sweets contain xylitol, which are both poisonous for pets. The owners of any animal that has ingested these should contact a vet immediately.

Veterinary Ireland is also warning about the toll Halloween can take on pets, and advises owners to stay with them while firework noises are ongoing and provide them a hiding place to escape to – like a crate with blankets or old clothes over the top.

For cats, they recommend putting out an extra litter tray and allowing them to seek refuge in high places.

To ease the mind of a fretful pet, they offer the following advice:

“Ignore fearful behaviour such as panting, shaking or whining. If owners give such animals extra attention in an attempt to comfort them, the pet may perceive this as a reward for displaying this type of behaviour and it can make matters worse over time.

Do not punish your pet for anxious behaviour such as scratching at doors or house soiling. This can also tend to exacerbate anxiety and make matters worse.

“There are plug in diffusers, sprays and collars containing pheromones, as well as other products available from your vet, all of which can help to relieve anxiety in pets.”

In severe cases, they also advise that a vet can prescribe medication to calm your furry friend if needs be.

To lessen stress for birds too, Veterinary Ireland recommends placing a blanket over their cage for sound protection.

The HSE has also issued a few non-pet related pointers, saying that parents shouldn’t feel pressure to stage a perfect Halloween event, and instead consider simpler joys like playing with conkers and crunching through leaves to celebrate the festivities.

They also warn against using fireworks and attending unsupervised bonfires, especially with children around, and remind parents to choose Halloween costumes with the CE mark, which certifies that it meets European safety standards.

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