Spooky season can be really fun for most of us - but remember some parts of Halloween can be terrifying for pets.
Halloween is one of the most festive times of the year - children and adults alike get dressed up in their scariest costumes, go to ghoulish parties and gorge on candy after trick-or-treating the neighbours.
In B.C., the spooky season has also been celebrated in recent years with fireworks displays that light up the night sky as All Hallows’ Eve is rang in across the city.
However this can all be quite stressful for our furry ones. Loud, sharp explosions, unfamiliar and scary outfits and non-stop doorbell ringing can be a terrifying experience for some pets and could cause some to get spooked and run away from home.
That’s why we’ve pulled together some tips to help make Halloween a stress-free time for your pups without spoiling any of the fun for you.
1. Keep pets at home
Although you might want your pup to join in on the festivities, it might be best to leave them at home and away from the celebrations. Why? Well strangers, costumes and loud noises can be quite the sensory overload for animals and could cause them to act aggressively in fear.
Keeping them at home in a safe, secure environment and away from the party will reduce their chance of becoming overwhelmed and scared.
2. Prepare your pup for trick or treaters
The BC SPCA recommends giving your pooch a dedicated room to themselves where they can take a break from the trick or treaters at the door on Halloween.
You can also try preparing your dog ahead of time by getting them used to the sound of the doorbell with a treat.
Even better - why not place a bowl of treats near the front door, so trick or treaters can help themselves without accidentally scaring your pup with knocks and rings.
3. Don’t let off fireworks
Fireworks can terrify all manner of animals, so much so that the BC SPCA receives 30 to 50 calls on Halloween night, with most of the calls being from callers who have witnessed a dog being hit by a car.
Aleigh Ateyo, night emergency officer at the BC SPCA in Vancouver, said a lot of calls are also from those who were walking their dog when they bolted at the sound of fireworks.
She said: “On nights when there are fireworks, the call load is always worse. The animals are frantic and once an animal is frightened and running, they are almost impossible to catch.”
Fireworks for use by the general public have been banned in Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver, with West Vancouver requiring anyone wanting to let off fireworks to purchase a permit.
The District of North Vancouver’s council also discussed a potential ban on fireworks earlier this month, with the outcome to be decided after Halloween some time in November.
Fireworks can also have a detrimental effect on other wildlife too, such as birds, racoons and skunks which can all be killed when fleeing from the explosions.
Avoid setting off fireworks this Halloween so all animals, as well as your own, can have a peaceful night.
4. If fireworks do go off
If fireworks are being let off in your neighbourhood, shut your windows and curtains and secure all entryways to avoid your pet getting spooked and running away.
Most pets become so terrified that they want to crawl under a piece of furniture or be close to someone when fireworks go off.
Create a safe space under a bed with a blanket or two to help your pet feel secure if they need to use it, and consider staying home rather than heading out to celebrate Halloween to comfort them whilst fireworks are let off.
Turning on a TV or some music to partly cover the noise (you don’t want it being too loud!) can also help, as well as keeping your pup on a tightly held harness or leash when let out to relieve themselves.
Remember - pets can find ways to bolt even from their own backyard, so be prepared and plan your pup’s pee and poop breaks ahead of the general fireworks times if you can.
It’s also a good idea to keep pets in a separate room or hold them on a leash when opening the door for trick or treaters in case they dash out.
5. Make sure your pet’s ID is updated
If the worst does happen and your dog bolts, ensuring ahead of time that your pup’s ID is updated is the best way to ensure that if they are found safely, they can be reunited with you in no time.
Contact your microchip provider and update your details with them directly as well as ensuring the contact details on your pooch’s collar are also refreshed.
6. Keep the candy away from your dog
It’s common knowledge that dogs should never be fed chocolate or candy, but sometimes accidents happen where children celebrating Halloween at home may not be as clued up as their parents - or a food-motivated pup sneaks into a bowl of treats.
Avoid tragedies and expensive pet bills by educating your children in advance and keeping sweet treats out of reach from your pup in a safe spot.
Your dog doesn’t have to miss out on the fun though - why not try whipping up some of these homemade Halloween treats made especially for doggy diets?
7. Avoid restrictive costumes
The BC SPCA recommends steering clear of restrictive costumes for your pup as they can inhibit the way they communicate with their body language - such as tail wagging or ear movements which are key to noticing whether they are uncomfortable or in fear.
You pup can still have fun in a sensible but festive collar or leash, or find a costume that restricts them as little as possible. Read our do’s and don’ts about dressing up your pet here.