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Blah! Blah! Halloween Can be Scary for Pets


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Halloween has the doorbell constantly, the door opening and closing with creatures that smell like humans but look like zombies or Avengers can be scary for many pets. Here are tips for dealing with Halloween anxiety.

Pheromone Fixes

Preparation should begin a week or so before the ‘howliday.’ Plug in pheromone diffusers in rooms the pets are most often hanging out. Adaptil naturally minimizes anxiety in dogs and Feliway Classic does the same for cats.

Feliway Classic is a copy of the comforting pheromone deposited by cats when they rub their cheek pads against your leg or a table leg. The cats are comfortably communicating “This is my world and welcome to it.”

Adaptil is a copy of the calming pheromone found in the milk of nursing mothers to calm puppies.

Using analogues of these pheromones can take the edge off, helping pets to cope and to maintain comfort in their own environment.  For most pets you know from prior experience they may have difficulty with the hoopla over Halloween. For puppies, you want them to get off on the right paw, use Adaptil Junior – to far lessen the chance of anxiety. Preventing anxiety from early on is a far better option than having to deal with a problem which might have been avoided.

For dogs bothered by that ringing doorbell, wearing a Thundershirt can also help many to feel more secure.

Safe Room

Distracting with a food puzzle can be helpful

I do like the idea of securing pets in the basement, a second bedroom or den – behind a closed door – especially if those pets are anxious about the Halloween hubbub.

There’s another really important reason for keeping pets away from the front door. So many animals are lost on Halloween.

Your first priority is to avoid your pet from running out the front door. But if it happens, you want to do your best to get your pet home again, which is why microchipping is so important.

Once chipped, and forever registered for just $19.99 per year. You can register any brand microchip to get a suite of pet safety and wellness benefits and access to a network of trained professionals ready to help at a moment’s notice from Home Again should the pet escape.

If your pets are sequestered in a “safe room,” close the windows. Feliway and Adaptil don’t work so well if the pheromone diffuses out the window, and also to minimize the noise of trick or treaters.

Musical Distraction

Also, pump up the volume of your favorite radio talk show as an alternative background, or use relaxing music.

There’s even soothing music that’s specially produced for pets. The leader in the industry is  ICalm which includes various packages and types tunes designed to calm dogs or cats. Victoria Stilwell offers calming music on her site, and A Sound Beginning also has calming music created for dogs.

Could it be that dogs are a little rock ‘n roll, and cats may be a little country?  Actually, it’s the classical music genre that seems to be the most relaxing for dogs and cats.

Distraction is a smart strategy. Stuff treats or kibble or moist food into a Kong toy or any of the myriad of food dispensing toys now on the market. If your dog or cat (yes cats too) are working on figuring out how to get the yummies, they won’t be simultaneously anxious about those raucous trick or treaters. (Warning: This method isn’t a good idea when multiple pets are aggressive in a confined space about sharing food and/or toys).

When a family member is available, distract with a favorite game – that’s often an effective diversion, such as playing with a dog with squeaky toy or using an interactive toy (fishing pole-type toy with feathers) to engage a cat.

Nutritional Supplements                                          

If you’re unable to distract your pet, and that background music won’t do the trick there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of going a step further. Nutraceuticals are a great place to begin, and can be acquired online or through your veterinarian.

  • Zentrol is a proprietary blend of plant extracts. Studies have demonstrating this chewable can lower fear, anxiety and stress. Studies have also demonstrated that dogs exhibit fewer “negative behavior” resulting from fear, anxiety and stress. Some caretakers suggest their dog is “acting out,” when, in fact, the dog is anxious.
  • Zylkene demonstrates grandma was right about a glass of warm milk being relaxing. Zylkene contains bovine-sourced hydrolyzed milk protein, an ingredient that has calming properties

More Spooky Solutions

For dogs specifically terrified of loud noises, speak with your veterinarian about a pharmaceutical SILEO (dexmedetomindine oramucosal), which does require a prescription. SILEO is an oromucosal gel (which means it is applied to the pet’s gums) and is quick-acting,

A CBD product might help ease anxiety, or might also be a waste of money. The problem is that there are many products and they may vary widely, and little research has been done regarding dogs, and even fewer studies when it comes to cats.

If you describe your pet as afraid all the time, talk with your veterinarian or contact a certified animal behavior consultant or a veterinary behaviorist. Never punish or holler your pet for being afraid, that will only have the opposite of the desired affect and create more fear, anxiety or stress.

No one wants their pets spooked on Halloween.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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