6 Tips for Stressed-out Cats and Dogs During This Sc-sc-scary Season
Halloween is a fun time to dress up and run around the neighborhood trick or treating. But the things that make this season so exciting for humans can be super scary for our four-legged friends.
For pet owners, watching our dog or cat feel anxious on Halloween is frustrating and can make us feel helpless.
Why is Halloween so scary for pets? Let’s find out, and explore ways to help cats and dogs through the Halloween season.
Why do pets get stressed at Halloween?
All the things we love about Halloween can cause serious sensory overload for our pets…
Groups of trick or treaters at the front door. Doorbells. Costumes. Masks. Noisy yard decorations. Parties. Strangers.
These unfamiliar experiences can cause pets to feel anxious—even the dog who is usually chill, or the cat who typically ignores everything.
Dogs and cats have more sensitive hearing than humans. Loud noises like kids shrieking in the street or a constantly ringing doorbell can cause stress.
Pets can become agitated, destructive and sometimes even aggressive when faced with these out-of-the-ordinary situations on Halloween.
Signs of Halloween anxiety in pets
How can you tell if Halloween is too scary for your pet?
Common anxiety symptoms in dogs are whining, panting, drooling, pacing, hiding or following the owner around. They may have potty accidents, changes in appetite or excessive yawning. Some dogs get so upset they have diarrhea and vomiting.
Cats who are feeling scared may raise their fur and start hissing. Cats are more likely to hide in a small closet or under furniture. A scared cat may not want a human to help calm her down and could act aggressively If approached.
Animals with severe anxiety can destroy toys and household items, or even injure themselves. Some scared pets have destroyed rugs, scratched through drywall and even broken window glass in attempts to escape their fear.
Tips and strategies for keeping your pet calm on Halloween
1. Create a safe space
Make your pet a safe indoor space during Halloween festivities. Choose an area that’s as soundproof as possible. This can help reduce anxiety. A crate with soft bedding inside can help your dog or cat feel protected and safe.
Does your dog or cat have a favorite place to go if he gets scared during thunderstorms? If so, that’s a good choice for a Halloween hideout.
2. Play them some tunes
Put on music, TV or white noise. Studies show that dogs react well to classical music. Try some Beethoven, Bach or other orchestral music. Check your favorite streaming service—they may have a special playlist for dogs!
3. Go for a long walk
Burn excess energy with a long walk a few hours ahead of the festivities. Physical activity will help your dog stay calmer.
4. Try supplements and medicine to reduce Halloween anxiety
Veterinary anti-anxiety medications exist but be sure to talk with your vet about possible negative side effects.
Natural pet supplements containing L-theanine, an amino acid, are a great alternative.
Popular safe, all-natural anti-anxiety solutions for pets include Scare-D-Pet™ for fearful pets. Homeopathic medicines are effective natural remedies made from homeopathic ingredients without side effects.
Scare-D-Pet™ comes in an easy-to-use dropper bottle that pets don’t mind. The formula promotes calm and relaxation in cats and dogs, and produces a gentle sedative-life effect.
Check out these other favorites for reducing anxiety and supporting pet behavior.
5. Wrap your dog in a snug garment to fight anxiety
Pressure wraps like the ThunderShirt or similar brands create gentle, constant pressure that releases endorphins and calms the animal. The material wraps around the dog’s chest and torso to provide security and comfort. These snug-fitting garments are available in stores, or you can DIY with an old t-shirt or stretchy material.
When using pressure wraps, make sure your pet is actually calm and not just fearful or inhibited by the wrap. Relaxed breathing and soft eyes are two signs of calmness rather than fear. Pressure wraps don’t work every dog, but many owners find them helpful.
6. Train and reward good behavior
Practice helping your dog learn the command “settle” when the doorbell rings. Start well in advance of Halloween night, so your dog has time to learn the desired behavior.
With enough practice and rewards, your pup may create positive associations when the doorbell rings. Eventually they will become desensitized to the sound. Practicing ringing the doorbell and answering the door is a great activity for all family members.
If this doesn’t help enough, find a trainer or veterinary behaviorist who’s knowledgeable about anxiety. Behavioral consultants use trusted training programs to desensitize pets to scary situations.
Make sure your trainer’s methods include positive reinforcement, never punishment.
Your pet’s anxiety about Halloween won’t get better without your intervention. With love and patience, you can help keep their stress under control so they can enjoy every day of the year—including Halloween.
10 Signs Your Dog is Stressed https://petalive.blog/2020/10/01/10-signs-your-dog-is-stressed/
CBD for Pets https://petalive.blog/2019/02/01/cbd-for-pets/
Seasonal Stress and Your Pet https://petalive.blog/2018/12/03/seasonal-stress-and-your-pet/
- Clark, Mike. “Halloween Noise Anxiety in Dogs And 8 Things You Can Do About It.” Dogtime. Accessed September 30, 2021. https://dogtime.com/holiday/44329-halloween-noise-anxiety-dogs-can
- Weisbuam, Herb. “How to keep your pet safe and stress-free this Halloween.” NBCNews. Accessed September 30, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-keep-your-pet-safe-stress-free-halloween-ncna1073906
- Reiche, Lily. “Reducing Your Dog’s Anxiety on Halloween.” Walk My Dog Spot. Accessed September 30, 2021. https://walkmydogspot.com/2018/10/21/reducing-your-dogs-anxiety-on-halloween/
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