Oct 17, 2012 / 5:00 am
If you think it would be a good idea to take your pet out to trick-or-treat with the kids on Halloween, think again.
The BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) says pet owners should leave their animals indoors during Halloween.
“Fireworks going off, a constantly ringing doorbell, and the presence of costumed strangers can all cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger,” says Lorie Chortyk, BC SPCA general manager of community relations.
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—even scratching or biting people, says Chortyk.
But it’s not just pets and people who are at risk at Halloween.
“Frightened farm animals have even been known to run into barbed-wire fences or other obstructions,” adds Chortyk.
The SPCA says that with a little planning, Halloween can be safe for everyone. It offers the following tips for keeping pets and people safe.
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 your pet doesn’t think he/she is 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. That way, they won’t knock or ring the doorbell – at least not until the bowl is emptied.
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, it is better to use a bright, cheerful voice to send a message that things are fine. Avoid saying things like, “it’s OK” or “don’t be scared” in a soft or sympathetic voice. This only reinforces your pet’s fearful behaviour.
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
If you think it would be fun to bring your pet 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 it feels scared or threatened.
Don’t costume your pet
Dressing your dog in a costume inhibits their ability to communicate, making them prone to display aggression or subjecting them to aggressive behaviour from other dogs.
Visit the SPCA website for more information on Halloween pet safety.
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