Halloween is exciting in Canada: costumes, candy, and fireworks (on the west coast) can be expected on a fun, spooky night. But if you share your home with a four-legged companion, spooky can be too much for their well-being.
The Fur-Bearers want to help keep your pets home and safe during Halloween and have assembled a few tips you can consider to reduce anxiety, keep pets from getting out, and make sure that if they do, they get home fast:
- Create a safe, secure place in your home – and get them comfortable before the big night. Whether it’s a bathroom, bedroom, or laundry room, try adding a few favourite items (beds, toys, scratching posts, food bowls, etc.), some soft music and spend some time in the space with your pet. That way they can be safely ensconced on the big night without it seeming like a big deal (and creating more anxiety). This will help particularly if you expect to be opening doors frequently for trick-or-treaters.
- Invest in baby gates. While they may not be too helpful in keeping cats in place, baby gates can be set up to create barriers for dogs. This itself can create anxiety – barrier aggression is quite common. However, with a few favourite treats and a friend or neighbour who’s willing to volunteer to knock on your door, positive reinforcement training can help reduce that anxiety!
- Put up signs on your door. Particularly for families whose cats run through legs like running backs, putting a sign up on your door that there’s a pet who may try to escape can help visitors know to not let them out – and to either wait for you to come out and close the door behind you, or have the visitors come all the way in and close the door immediately.
- Talk to a veterinarian about anxiety. If your pet experiences severe anxiety, please consider a visit to your veterinarian to discuss solutions such as positive reinforcement exercises or short-term pharmacological interventions.
- Update licenses and microchip data. Most municipalities have pet licensing that can help get pets home faster if they do get out and/or lost. For a nominal fee that also supports important municipal services, it’s a wise investment. While these licenses tend to be updated annually, it’s worth checking out to make sure your current phone number and address are on file, as well as any medical needs your pet may have. The same can be done with a microchip (talk to your veterinarian if you’re not sure about this).
- Costumes are cute, but reflective collars with tags are cuter. While we love seeing a pug wearing Yoda ears or a cat with a bowtie as much as the next animal lovers, safety always comes first. If you’re worried about clanging of metal tags (which, for pets who have much stronger hearing than us must be irritating), just wrap the tags with a small elastic.
Enjoy Halloween, and please keep your family’s safety in mind. Because Halloween should be a bit spooky, but not scary.