Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Apple cider, sweaters, pumpkins, OH MY!
Most of all, many of us here at Norwalk Animal Hospital are huge fans of Halloween. You will often catch us decorating the office and wearing spooky scrubs during the month of October.
Halloween may be all fun and games for us, but it can be terrifying for our animals. Just think about it. Every time that anxiety inducing doorbell rings, the alarm barks go off. Talk about putting the TRICK in Trick or Treat!
There are lots of ways to avoid putting your animals in stressful situations during Halloween.
Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe and calm:
1. Keeping your pet away from the front door avoids accidental escapes and helps decrease visual and auditory stimulus when trick r’ treaters come to visit.
2. Keep calm, act normal, and keep to routine. Believe it or not, your animal can often sense your mood. If the holiday is making you anxious, they are going to feel it too.
3. Try to avoid walking dogs during trick r’ treating hours if you know they are likely to react badly to crowds.
4. If your dog enjoys walks and being social, be watchful that they do not ingest any candy, especially chocolate which can be toxic to dogs, that might have been dropped along the way.
5. Play music or turn on the television to calm dogs and mask scary noises. My dog, Timber, loves classical music!
6. Close the curtains and keep the light on to limit visual stimulation from outside. Having one member of the household sit with the animals in a “soundproof” area such as a basement or bathroom can help as well.
7. Avoid petting and telling your pet that “It’s OK” during scary events, because they are hearing that it is okay to be anxious and bark during these events. Just sitting with them calmly is reward enough.
8. We may think our pet looks adorable in that T-rex costume, however, few dogs actually enjoy dressing up and having unnecessary objects on them can actual heighten anxiety. No one knows your pet better than you, so if your pet looks uncomfortable when you put that pair of bunny ears on them, decide against it.
Remember, it is perfectly fine to ask your veterinarian for help. Some animals are comforted and respond well to a thunder shirt, which is a jacket that wraps snugly around their body. Norwalk Animal Hospital sells these shirts and can help you find the correct fit for your pet. However, sometimes animals have anxiety that is so severe that it requires the help of medication, of which there are several safe options available. Please consult your primary care vet before giving your animals medication.
Sileo is a newer FDA approved medication for the treatment of noise aversion in dogs that comes in an easy to administer tube and is absorbed through the oral mucosa. This medication is known to calm pets without sedating them and has worked well in several of our noise averse patients, especially those that are afraid of thunderstorms. For more information, consult Norwalk Animal Hospital or your primary veterinarian as Sileo may not be recommended for all pets.
Now to end with a TREAT! One of the most common things that come to mind when people think of fall is pumpkins, which when administered correctly can be given to dogs as well. Pumpkin (and pumpkin puree) contains a ton of soluble fiber that can help firm up soft stool, plus, animals tend to love the taste. However, too much can actually cause diarrhea in dogs that cannot tolerate large amounts of fiber, so be sure to ask us at Norwalk Animal Hospital before adding it into your dog’s diet. If you are a big fan of DIY, here is the link to a simple Pumpkin Oat Dog Treat Recipe that my dog, Timber, absolutely loves: https://bakeatmidnite.com/pumpkin-oat-dog-biscuits/
Have a safe and Happy Howl-o-ween!