Many of us get excited for fall holidays and activities such as harvest parties and Halloween, but for our non-human companions, this can be a stressful time. If you are a pet parent, it is important to understand that your dog’s instinct is to protect its home and alert you to strangers while your cat often prefers their normal quiet routine. The hustle and bustle of fall can easily stress out your pet and create unnecessary anxiety. This October, as you decorate for fall and prepare for festivities, here are some recommendations to help you be mindful of your pets.
Lower Your Pet’s Stress
If you plan on hosting any holiday parties or handing out candy this month, be sure to provide your pet with a quiet room where they can feel safe and relax. If your pet is likely to get anxious throughout the night or attempt to escape, we recommend keeping them comfortable in a closed room or in their crate with soft music in the background and a favorite toy to keep them calm. This can be a great way to keep them distracted from the sounds of holiday activities. Place a sign on the door so guests know it is off-limits.
Even if you are only inviting friends over and your pet is sociable, it is a good idea to provide them with a calm safe space. Masks and costumes can change how people look and smell to your pet, making them wary of even familiar faces.
Stow Away Candy
Store candy and holiday foods out of reach from curious pets in a child-proof container as many candies and treats such as chocolate, gum, and xylitol (a common sweetener used in foods) can be toxic to pets. If you have children, keep an eye out to make sure they aren’t sharing their loot with their best furry friend.
During the holiday season, it is important to keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline number handy, 888-426-4435. If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, call your vet or poison control immediately.
With the holiday season approaching, it’s time to start thinking about decorations. Though decorating around the house can be exciting and fun, sudden changes to your home can make your pet anxious. Fake spiders or motion-activated devices may be seen as a threat and cause your pet to attack or become aggressive.
Some decorations may have obvious signs of danger such as real candles, while others may be more subtle like small spiders and fake webbing that can easily become choking hazards. Glow sticks, fake blood, potpourri, lights, and real flowers can be dangerous and toxic to pets. Make sure to decorate your home in a way that is safe for your animal companions.
Though your pet may look cute in a costume, we recommend against pet costumes unless you are sure your pet likes wearing them. A mask and hat can be great for a quick photo opportunity but oftentimes, your pet may get uncomfortable and try to take off their costume. Signs that your pet may not like their costume can include ears folded down, tucked tail, trying to bite parts of the costume, and rolling around in an attempt to take it off.
If your pet doesn’t mind their costume, make sure it is comfortable and allows them to move freely. Remove any dangling, small, or chewable costume accessories or pieces to avoid choking hazards.
We also recommend introducing yourself to your pet in your costume as they may not recognize you and be frightened by your new appearance. It may be helpful to let your pet watch you put on your costume.
Protect Your Pet
In the days approaching Halloween, it may be a good idea to bring your pets indoors before nightfall, so they don’t become agitated or attempt to escape from holiday festivities. Make sure they have a lot of physical activity throughout the day so they can feel tired and more relaxed during nightfall.
It is important that you make sure your pet always wears their ID tag and that all the information on their microchip is up to date in the event of an escape. This information will help to recover your lost pet.
Fall activities don’t have to be stressful for your pets, we hope that these few tips will help to keep your pet calm and relaxed during the month. For more information on how to help your pet stay safe during Halloween or to schedule an appointment, contact St. Matthews Animal Clinic today.