Calming Pets During Trick or Treating: A How-to Guide
Many of us consider Halloween to be the best holiday of all. We get to feel like kids again, dress up, go to parties, enjoy candy, and even watch spooky movies that send chills down our spines. That being said, many people will tell you that the best part of Halloween is the parade of costumed youngsters showing up at our doors, asking for candy.
Trick or treating can be a whole lot of fun for us, but for your pet, Halloween may truly be a night of horror. If your pet gets nervous when trick or treaters keep arriving at your home, there are some simple things that you can do to keep them calm.
Why Can Halloween Be a Stressful Time for Our Pets?
Every pet has their own triggers that can send them into a state of distress. In fact, some pets are generally more sensitive to stress than others. There are certain triggers though, that seem to commonly affect pets more often than not. One of those can be trick or treating that takes place in their presence.
Pets can react very negatively to unpredictability, as most animals default to their underlying survival instincts, telling them that unpredictable events mean danger. The constant ringing of the doorbell, and the sound of one group of strangers after another, can make them feel extremely insecure.
Now, that’s not to say all Halloween pets have to be affected negatively by this standard holiday custom. You may have a cat or dog who is completely unbothered and feels quite secure throughout the day and night. Still, if you’re unsure as to whether or not your pet is disturbed by trick or treaters, look out for these common signs of stress:
- Disinterest in food
- Excessive vocalization
- Apathy to affection
- Destructive behaviors, such as scratching furniture
- Sleeping more than usual
- Excessive grooming
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If your animal displays signs of anxiety when trick or treaters show up at your home, there are some ways in which calming pets quickly can be achieved. Of course, if your furry friend shows abnormal stress levels consistently, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about a more intensive treatment for anxiety.
Tip #1: Maintain a “Safe Space”
A pet who is nervous or stressed out will likely follow their natural survival instincts by hiding. This makes them feel secure, because it helps them feel safe from potential predators. You can support this natural instinct by providing them with a safe space in your home, where they can hide throughout Halloween. Pets tend to prefer enclosed spaces when they hide, so you can create a comfortable fort with some cushions, blankets, and small pieces of furniture for draping. You can even include their bed or preferred toys in the space.
Tip #2: Drown Out the Noise
Pets are very sensitive to sounds, especially when those sounds are loud and unpredictable. Consider enhancing their safe haven by drowning out the noise with either calming music or white noise, both of which can effectively neutralize whatever sounds are taking place at your doorstep or beyond.
Tip #3: Greet Your Trick or Treaters Outside
If you’re able to, you can simply stay outdoors and greet your guests from your yard. This way, your pet will not even know that strangers are showing up to their home. Bring your bowl of candy, set up a chair, and make yourself a festive beverage that you can sip while trick or treaters arrive.
Tip #4: Make Sure Your Pet Has Access to Their Favorite Personal Items
Pets are creatures of comfort, and when your cat or dog are feeling on edge, they like to have a sense of familiarity around them. This means that you might be able to lower their stress levels by ensuring that their favorite items are beside them at all times. This may include their favorite toys, human clothes with your scent on them, or their preferred bed. Pets prefer familiar smells, so choose a toy that has gotten a lot of use recently, and will still have their/your scent on it.
Tip #5: Don’t Let Their Feeding Time Get Thrown Off Schedule
Trick or treaters can throw our schedules out of whack, since we have to constantly get up and greet them in a way that can be mildly disruptive. However, try to avoid putting off your pet’s feeding session due to all the guests arriving at your door. Pets are extremely sensitive to changes in their schedule, and this is especially true when it comes to their food. Make it a point to feed them at the same time they would normally eat, as they may begin to feel insecure otherwise.
Tip #6: Better to Leave Your Pet at Home
This tip is really meant more for dogs. If you live in a neighborhood that is very lively with kids trick or treating on Halloween, leaving your dog at home is probably the right choice to make. It’s not just the noise of exuberant parents and excited youths as they run along the sidewalks that can make your canine anxious, but it can also be the costumes that kids (and sometimes parents) wear. In their mind, those scary-looking costumed humans who might approach your dog to pet them could trigger an unsettling fight-or-flight response (also known as the acute stress response).
Still, if you do decide to venture out with your dog, it is recommended you do the following:
- Keep your dog on a leash and close to your side.
- Be very aware as you take in your surroundings.
- Evaluate the people coming in close contact with you as you walk your dog on the sidewalk.
- Guard your pet against friendly, excited children who want to pet your canine (we mentioned above why this is best to do so).
Tip #7: Consider Using CBD Oil
CBD oil is very useful on Halloween for pets, not to mention, other times in which their stress risk is high. Since cannabidiol is non-toxic to pets, it will not poison or sicken them. Being a cannabinoid, CBD attaches itself to cannabinoid receptors in their nervous systems that have a role in regulating mood and stress response. This is why some people notice that their pets seem to be more mellow after consuming CBD.
Advice: Anyone looking to give their pet CBD oil this Halloween should make sure the product is formulated for pets, like D Oh Gee CBD Oil Drops for Dogs. These products will simply contain ingredients that are safe for their bodies, and milligram strengths that are appropriate for their size and cannabinoid systems. An easy way to get them to consume CBD oil is to mix it into their food, using the serving size guide on the package.
Make Sure to Prioritize Your Pet’s Wellbeing This Halloween
Halloween can be lots of fun, and for some people, their favorite time of the year! Our pets tend to show distress when their routines and home life are thrown out of whack, which is why Halloween can be a triggering day for many of our furry counterparts. The good news is that with just a little bit of effort, you can greatly reduce the risk of having a stressed-out pet. So, go ahead and get the candy ready, have your costume all picked out, and if you’re heading out the door, your trick or treat route all set. As long as you keep your pet’s mood in mind as you prepare for Halloween, you both can have an enjoyable and safe time.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer. All opinions expressed in this blog post are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Sky Wellness or its brands/affiliates.