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Slimy Autumn Dangers – Halloween and Fireworks

Halloween can be lots of fun for families and young children, and you may be tempted to get your pet involved this spooky season. However, your pet probably would not be as keen, and may even be quite overwhelmed. Here’s how you can keep them safe and content throughout the festivities.

Pumpkins! Many families will love carving a spooky pumpkin this year and may even opt for multiple in various sizes.  Whilst they are considered non-toxic, they could cause a sore stomach if a lot is consumed. If your family choose to carve a pumpkin, always ensure the remains are kept well out of sight of your pet, including the seeds. When you have finished with your pumpkin, make sure you dispose of it safely and responsibly, and do not leave to rot somewhere within reach of your pet. 

Glowsticks and Candles. If you purchase a pack of glowsticks this spooky season, keep them well out of reach of your pet as they may mistake for a toy or a treat stick. Glowsticks contain an oily liquid which can cause severe drooling and foaming at the mouth. As we’re sure you can imagine, it also wouldn’t taste very nice!

As the nights get darker you may be tempted to light some candles or sparklers. Either keep them well out of reach, and position somewhere they are unlikely to get knocked over or bashed with their tail! Or better yet opt for electric candles instead. Sparklers could also be very intimidating to pets so it’s probably best to keep them inside in their safe space whilst you safely use them.

Bonfires. Remember! Alwayscheck bonfires before lighting them as cats and various other wildlife may be hiding under there as it is a great shelter for them. As bonfires are made from natural materials like wood and compost, and with plenty of small spaces to crawl and hide under, it’s no wonder bonfires are mistaken for an ideal habitat, and potentially a safe space too especially if lots of fireworks are going off and your pet is terrified. Bonfires are ideally best to be avoided altogether, but if you must have one, you can try the following wildlife friendly ways of building one:

  • Wait to build until the day you are going to light it. The longer the bonfire is left unattended, the more likely an animal is going to find its way under it.
  • If you do need to build it a few days before you light it, placing a chicken wire one metre all the way round the bottom can make it difficult for pets and creatures to access. 
  • Check the entire bonfire before lighting by lifting each section with a broom. Avoid checking with a rake in case you injure an animal. When you do go to light, only light one corner so anything underneath can escape if necessary.
  • Finally, always keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of emergencies. If you notice a pet or another form of wildlife struggling to escape, the bonfire can be quickly put out. If you notice a pet or wildlife creature has been injured, take it to your local vets immediately.

Trick or treat?! Halloween sweet treats like chocolate are toxic to pets, so should not be given as a treat to your pet. Boiled sweets, chocolate wrappers and sour/ sugary treats should also be kept securely away. If you have young children, make sure they do not get hold of a sweet and give it to your pet. If your pet does manage to eat any treats you should contact your local vet immediately.

Halloween costumes. Please remember that whilst it may be fun and exciting to dress your pet up in cute costumes, your pet potentially may not like it. They may find it hot and uncomfortable, itchy and may even feel scared in it. Cats are likely to feel intimidated and slouch down small. They may also try and take it off themselves straight away risking pieces of fabric being swallowed. Whilst dogs may be more calm in costumes, it’s still is not advised to dress them up.  If you must dress them, always ensure loose threads and decorations are removed to prevent swallowing, and ensure the costumes are not made of a flammable material. You may even be able to find a special costume for pets made from lightweight, pet friendly material.

If you notice your pet struggling in their costume or they seem distressed at any time, take it off immediately. Allow them to go to their safe space without following until they feel safe again. They will come back to you as and when they are ready.


Firework advice

Extreme sounds caused from fireworks are very common in dogs and reactions can vary. While a certain degree of fear is normal, it becomes distressing for both you and your dog if this fear becomes severe.

Signs to look out for in dogs include:

  • Ears back
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Hiding away
  • Barking excessively
  • Messing in the house

You can try to help through sound therapy. Whilst it’s best to start this sound therapy a few months earlier, it can help to get your dog used to the noises of fireworks. Here is a good website for sound therapy music.

Although loud noises are very frightening for cats too, they may not show as many behavioural changes as dogs do. The bigger problem for cats is often stress caused by changes to their environment or routine, especially when they are used to being outdoors and this changes to being kept in the house more.

Signs to look out for in cats include:

  • Excessive grooming
  • House soiling/ anxiety
  • Less interaction with you
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Hiding away
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite

Ways to help depends on your pet. They may want you to comfort them and give them a reassuring cuddle, whereas some may just want to be on their own in a safe space. Whatever they choose, just make it easy for them to hide away in a quiet room, or come to you for a warm secure hug.

If you’re ever unsure about anything this time of year, please do have a word with your local veterinary practice for tips and advice on how to help keep your pet safe, happy and content. 

Stay safe and Happy Halloween from all at Vetsure!