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  • Writer's pictureClaire Corridan

Halloween- Treats no Tricks Please?!?

In my native Scotland, we go "guising" at Halloween- children dress-up in fancy dress costumes, visit their neighbours and do a "party piece," sing a song, tell a joke, do a wee dance or magic trick, in return for sweeties, tangerines/apples and on occasion a small amount of pocket- money. There is no trick as an alternative to giving treats- it's a positive experience for the children and the households they visit!

Please do give a thought to the animals living both inside and outside of people's homes this Halloween!

Scary People

Cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and other companion animals, who are normally really well socialised with children, may be apprehensive and then anxious meeting "sugar rush" children, full of squealing excitement and with painted faces and weird and wonderful costumes on. When the only options are to freeze, run away and hide or "ask/ bark/ hiss" to get the children to back off and give them space- many pets might be misunderstood and potentially admonished for reacting negatively. You and I know that the children mean no harm- but if your pet doesn't know that, they are going to want to scarper or vocalise to create a safe distance between themselves and the "scary person or people."

Safe & Happy Place

Make sure you think about where your pets are going to be safe, quiet and comfortable, if you are expecting brightly coloured and noisy visitors to your home. Make sure they have some interesting toys, chews or food dispensing games to keep them entertained. If you have access to lovely appeasing pheromones (Adaptil/ Feliway/ Rabbit Appeasing Pheromone) please do plug them in or spray them on bedding or bandanas.

Pet Costumes

I am personally not a great fan of dressing pets up- I would be much happier dressing up myself and allowing my pets to be "au naturale" but still participating in the fun and treats. If your pet particularly enjoys dressing up- please make sure the clothing is not heavy, tight or restrictive in any way. If they struggle when you put it on, and have their heads and tails down, or spend their time trying to get it off, please remove, accepting it's just not for them. If they appear to enjoy it, not minding it being put on and possibly enjoying the additional attention they get- then fair enough.

Chocolate & Sweeties

Please remember that dogs and cats should never be fed "normal or non- pet friendly" chocolate or sweets. The chemicals in both (Theobromine/ Xylitol) are toxic for animals. Instead- treat them with their favourite biscuits or pet friendly treats instead.


Animals both indoors and outside (remember the livestock in the fields and wild birds/ foxes/ rabbits) exposed to the noise from fireworks, without any understanding that we humans consider them "entertaining!" Never let off fireworks anywhere near animals, of any kind. If your pets are indoors, put them in a room away from direct exposure to fireworks, away from conservatories or patio doors; play a loud movie or music to distract them, treat them to nice things to eat or their favourite games instead, to try and turn the whole thing into a positive rather than negative experience. Plan your dog walks for earlier in the day, before dark, so they only need out for a quick loo break when it's dark. Select routes away from planned public firework displays. Please keep dogs on lead- as if they are off lead and startled, they could run off or get into bother (risk of getting hit by a car in panic).

Medications and Anti- Anxiety supplements

There are some things you can buy, over- the counter- or online which might help? I mentioned pheromones, which are great, and completely safe. There are some others you can look up including Zylkene (milk protein casein) and products containing L- Tryptophan. There are also licensed "panicolytic" medications your vet can advise you on, including Sileo, Xanax, Pexion and longer- term anti- anxiety medications such as Reconcile, Clomicalm and Selgian. Don't leave it until the last minute- book in to see your vet asap if you think your pet needs help coping during the firework season.

Have fun & make sure your pets stay safe and happy too!

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