Protect your pets at Halloween

When dogs and cats are frightened, they are more likely to run away from their homes.

While Halloween is great fun for kids

With Halloween here, it’s a good time to think about how you can keep your pets safe and happy when the trick-or-treaters come calling.

While Halloween is great fun for kids, the fireworks, strange costumes and constant ringing of the doorbell can spook even the calmest of animals. 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 —scratching or biting out of fear.

The BC SPCA offers these Halloween safety tips:

• 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.

• Identification

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.

• Don’t console your anxious pet

While it is natural to want to comfort your pet if he or she is frightened of fireworks, it is better to use a bright, cheerful voice to send a message that things are fine. Avoid saying things like, “it’s okay” or “don’t be scared” in a soft or sympathetic voice. This only reinforces your pet’s fearful behaviour.

Lorie Chortyk• 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

While you might think it would be fun to bring your dog 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 they feel scared or threatened.

• Don’t dress up your pet

Dressing your dog in a costume inhibits his ability to communicate normally with other dogs, making him prone to display aggression himself or be subjected to aggressive behaviour from other dogs.

For more information on how to make this Halloween a safe one for your pet, visit spca.bc.ca.

Lorie Chortyk is the general manager, community relations, for the BC SPCA.

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