As the darker nights and cooler temperatures roll in, we have a whole lot of reasons for celebrating – whether you’re into bobbing for apples or swirling sparklers, it’s one of the most exciting times of the year!
With all these celebrations, it’s easy to overlook our four-legged friends. Bright, stimulating colours, crowds and lots of loud noises are all potential hazards for our pet and may affect their wellbeing. So how do we spot the signs and what can we do to keep our pets safe?
Potential hazards over the holiday season
To keep your pet as safe as possible over Halloween and Bonfire Night, try to make sure they are not exposed to any of the following hazards.
Discarded sweets and chocolate may be very tempting for dogs, and if ingested could prove fatal. Wrappers may cause choking or a digestive blockage, while chocolate, particularly higher in cocoa content, may lead to death (read our chocolate poisons Easter blog).
Always keep bags of sweets and other treats like grapes, raisins and nuts ready for the Trick or Treat door knock, out of your dog’s reach, and be mindful of little ones eating chocolate around dogs.
With many visitors knocking on your door, dogs and cats will be on high alert at Halloween. Never leave your pets outside on Halloween night, and if you have an outdoor cat, keep it indoors for a few days before Halloween so it becomes accustomed to staying inside. Keep dogs, particularly nervous dogs, away from the front door if you are expecting many visitors and always ensure your pets are microchipped and the details are up to date if they do manage to get out.
Finally, keep pumpkins outside to avoid exposure to dangerous flames. While pumpkins are not harmful to dogs and cats, excessive consumption may cause digestive upsets. If your dog is susceptible to nerves, fit them with one of our Pet Remedy bandanas.
The two obvious dangers for Bonfire Night are large open fires and the noise of fireworks. Walk your dog earlier in the day to avoid exposing them to these hazards in the evening, and try a few of these tips to make both dogs and cats feel safe while there are loud noises outside.
Start by creating a “safe space” for your dog, ideally the quietest room in the house, and ensure all doors, windows and curtains are closed. If possible, create “hiding places” that are warm and contained for cats or dogs to snuggle into. You could also play calming music or keep the television on to cover the sound of the fireworks. Again, encourage cats to stay inside a few days beforehand, and ensure they are microchipped in case they are scared and try to escape.
Signs your pet is distressed
Approximately 45 per cent of dogs show some signs of stress during fireworks, so look out for the following signs to keep them as calm as possible. For example, your dog may not want to eat while there are loud noises outside, so make sure you feed him or her earlier in the day in line with their early walk.
You may also notice signs of trembling, excessive pacing, panting and salivation, yawning and wanting to seek shelter. You can help them with the shelter but don’t fuss over them any more than usual – they will detect this as a warning sign and may become more distressed. It is important that you remain calm during the firework period as your pets will sense your anxieties for them and fear something is wrong. If they want to hide under the bed or snuggle up to you, let them.
Bring hutched and caged pets indoors or in secure sheds or garages and add extra bedding for burrowing in and cover with a blanket still allowing for ventilation.
How Pet Remedy works
For those with nervous dogs, herbal remedies are a wonderful natural solution that will calm dogs down over distressing periods. Our calming spray contains Valerian oil, vetiver, sweet basil and clary sage, which mimics the natural calming agent found in all mammals. It works best when sprayed onto a bandana or bedding, or any other material with which your pets will come into contact – but not directly onto the animal itself. Its effects start instantly and can last for four hours – perfect for those winter celebrations!
Speaking with my vet nurse hat on preparation is the key and therefore here at Bertie & Bella's we recommend to take action now so that pets will become accustomed to the calming scent in the environment as it is and comfortable in their safe space which will put you at ease and make them more relaxed before the loud noises and knocks on the door set in.