By LuAnn McLain
Halloween, like other holidays, includes activities that can be confusing or frightening to a pet.
Animals will react strongly to a strange image, even if it happens to be a human they know and love well, who happens to look different for some reason. At Halloween, the possibility of seeing someone that has a different appearance increases immensely.
Cats often react to new objects or moved objects in their territory. Dogs quickly respond to strange people, often with barking. We have had our dogs bark at us sometimes even when coming in the door carrying a large object. We know they bark at family members wearing masks.
Dogs may react ferociously while a cat may run away or arch her back, preparing to fight when confronted by something which is strange. If our pets are this sensitive to such things when it is someone they know, then we can expect they will react at least as strongly to the children and other strangers who are out going door to door.
Pets, especially black ones, have a greater risk of disappearing than other times of the year. Pet owners need to be a little more cautious about keeping track of pets. Keep them in the yard, indoors, or on leash.
Other dangers include humans who use cruel Halloween-related practices on animals, and reactions people have to certain animals due to superstitions. Black cats are especially vulnerable to these dangers. Any black pets may be at risk.
In order to protect your pets, it is best to keep them in the safest place possible. This is most likely your house. Pets left in the yard when no humans are home are sometimes targets of theft. Safety practices are important all year long but especially important during these weeks when persons might be searching out animals to steal.
During the evening of Halloween when the children are out to trick or treat, keeping our pets in a room away from the door is the best recommendation. Because the door will be opened frequently, owners will want to prevent pets from slipping out the door. The door bell or knocking will also be upsetting to pets.
Since dogs are protective of their territory, they may become aggressive toward the children coming to the door. Cats are also easily upset when their environment is disturbed. Cats, however, may not show any reaction other than hiding or running away. They nevertheless will be stressed by the increased activity.
Cats that are caught outdoors during Halloween night are susceptible to children reacting in fear to them, especially black cats. Fear can bring out aggression in children who may try to harm a cat. A child might simply cry out when they see a cat. Yelling or chasing a cat may cause the cat to run away and get lost. The same may happen with a dog, should it be outside during the evenings activities.
Treats lying around or even given to a pet during this time can be another risk for pets. Candy is not a healthy thing to give pets. Chocolate can be lethal and should never be given to a pet.
Even when owners have no intention of providing a pet with candy, pets have a way of getting into things that are left sitting out. This means candy needs to be attended at all times when it is accessible by pets.
Securing the pet in a safe and comfortable place away from all the activity can help prevent your pet from being exposed to any of the mentioned dangers. Leave a radio or music playing at a low level and it will help to soothe the pet and cover some of the noise related to the activities.
Have a safe and happy week with your pets. If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, send your letter to PO Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.