6 top tips to keep your beloved pets safe over Halloween
As Halloween approaches, the ISPCA has reminded pet owners to be aware of the dangers Hallowe'en poses to pets, taking extra care to safeguard not only domestic pets but wildlife too.
They issued some pointers on how to keep your animals safe:
The ISPCA strongly recommend that all dog owners have their pet’s microchipped in case they are taken or go missing over Halloween. This is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old and failure to do so is an offence under the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA).
Dog owners need to be in possession of a microchipping certificate also so it is important your contact details are kept up-to-date. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to inform the database operator of any change of contact details so once your dog has been microchipped, check the database to ensure your details are correct.
If your pet becomes lost, having them microchipped is the best way to ensure they will be reunited with you as it’s the first thing a veterinary practice, rescue centre or dog warden do is to scan your pet for a microchip. Lost animals puts a lot of extra pressure on animal rescue centres, dog pounds and veterinary practices but it also causes more upset for pets and their owners so don’t delay and get your dog(s) microchipped today – it’s the law!.
While microchipping is recommended for all cat owners as well as dogs, there are no current plans to make microchipping compulsory for cats.
Help your pets during Hallowe'en
Pet owners can help train their dogs and cats to become accustomed to the sounds of Halloween fireworks by playing similar sounds at low volumes. As difficult as it may be, try not to react to your pet showing signs of fear as it may be the best way you can help them. Licking objects such as toys filled with treats may help ease your pet’s stress. If they are up for it, playing with them may also be a welcome distraction, but don’t force it if your pet is too upset to play. Walk your dog(s) in the morning and earlier evening away from any fireworks.
If you are concerned that your pet is unmanageably terrified of the noise of fireworks, you should consult your vet to discuss ways for managing your pet’s stress.
Outdoor pets including small mammals or birds should also be brought indoors into a secure garage or shed where they can be secure from any loud noise or fireworks. You can also cover hutches or cages with blankets to act as sound-proofing.
Horses, ponies and donkeys should also be microchipped, and those that live in areas with a considerable amount of Halloween-related noise should be securely stabled to prevent them from escaping or hurting themselves.
Keep sweets and decorations out of reach
Dogs and cats should be kept away from sweets and Halloween decorations. Chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to pets, as are any sweets containing the sugar substitute xylitol. Ingesting foil or plastic wrappers can also lead to digestive problems and may require surgery. If your pet does ingest something toxic, contact your vet immediately.
Beware of costumes
Not all pets will tolerate wearing costumes and it may cause them undue stress. Only dress up your pet for Halloween if you know they enjoy it. Halloween themed bandanas can be less restrictive so if you do choose to put your pet in a costume, make sure it does not limit the animal’s movement, vision, ability to breathe or behave normally. Also ensure any costume doesn’t have any small, chewable pieces or toxic paints or dyes. People wearing Halloween costumes can be equally as scary to pets. Masks or other costume accessories may trigger their territorial instincts. While people might enjoy being spooked during the Halloween festivities, it’s not fun for pets. If your pet is scared, ensure they are in a separate room and safe place.
Look out for wildlife
Hedgehogs go into hibernation this time of year and will sleep in woodpiles or heavy scrub and leaves. It is important you check under all woodpiles before lighting any bonfires to ensure there is no wildlife hibernating. Some outdoor decorations such a fake spider webs or string lights can snare wild animals, so be careful about hanging them and remove them after the festivities.
Report animal cruelty
Unfortunately, stray animals can fall victim to abuse or cruel Hallowe'en pranks. If you witness animal cruelty, contact your local Garda station immediately and the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515 or report online.
ISPCA Public Relations Manager Carmel Murray said: “While we all enjoy the festivities of Halloween, many pets and wildlife will find this time of year terrifying. It is important that they have a secure place to hide indoors if they are frightened by the noises of fireworks and trick-or-treaters calling to the door.
"Leaving the lights low, and playing the radio or television can help drown out some of the sounds as it can be a stressful time for them. It is also important our pets are kept safe in a secure room where they cannot dart out an open door. If your pet manages to escape, it is important they are wearing an ID tag plus they should be microchipped, which is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old.
"Pets that have been found will be scanned for a microchip which holds the pet owners contact details so it is important this information is kept up to date."
Carmel added: "Hallowe'en can also be a dangerous time for our wildlife so it is important to check under wood, scrub and leaves for hibernating hedgehogs before lighting any bonfires. Sadly stray animals can fall victim to abuse or cruel Halloween pranks so if you witness any animal cruelty, contact your local Garda station immediately and report it to the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.”