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Easing Pets’ Anxieties on Halloween


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Zombies and baby sharks may not appear at the front door as often this year, and for many pets that’s a blessing. While some pets are excited about those visits, others are hesitant – and some are even terrified. Here are some tips regarding Halloween and pets on Halloween:

For starters, many pets become frightened when the doorbell rings. So you might want to consider putting up a sign that says “Please knock.” And place tape over your doorbell.

Many dogs and some cats love seeing all those visitors, and love them so much they may chase them out the door. Lots of pets are lost on Halloween. Ensure all pets have identification. Sometimes cats run out the door so quickly, people don’t notice until hours later when they realize the cat is gone.

For pets suffering from fear, anxiety and stress when those zombies and baby sharks appear, you have a secret weapon: Closed doors. Keep pets behind a closed door in a second bedroom, a den, basement or wherever you can confine.

Sanctuary Room

Start with pheromones:

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.”

Dog wearing a Thundershirt

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

Both Feliway and Adaptil help to minimize anxiety, helping pets to feel more comfortable in their own environments.

Wearing a Thundershirt can also help many dog to feel more secure.

You can’t as easily hear the noise (if there is any noise this year) of raucous children trick or treating, which can disturb some pets, if the windows are closed.

Music can be calming for anxious pets. But what kind of music? 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.

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.

Distractions

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 to 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 may be 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: 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.
  • Zylkene:  Demonstrates grandma was right about a glass of warm milk having a calming efect. Zylkene contains bovine-sourced hydrolyzed milk protein, an ingredient that has calming properties. Zylkene doesn’t cause drowsiness, so your dog or cat will remain alert but calm.
  • Calming Care is a probiotic from Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets; simply sprinkle on the dog’s food. The stomach and the brain are indeed connected. A six-week supply of supplements contains a strain of beneficial bacteria known as BL999 that has shown to help keep dogs calm during stressful situations like separation.
  • CBD: Anecdotal reports are that CBD for pets may help to relieve anxiety. Well, maybe. There’s no science regarding this – at least not yet. Also, beware not all CBD products are the same. See your veterinarian for the right choice.

No More Spooky

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 effect 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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