8 Tips To Keep Dogs Safe & Stress-Free For Halloween

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Halloween can be hard on some dogs.  A friend’s dog that I sometimes walk gets startled by yard decorations, so you can imagine all the giant spiders, skulls, ghosts, etc. in people’s yards are not her favorite things.   Be mindful of what stresses your dog, like kids in costumes, and do your best to help them out.  Make sure your pups are also safe!  Check out these tips to keep your dog safe and stress-free.

Thunderstorms & Lost Pets

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We had a huge thunderstorm last night here in our corner of the Pacific NW.  Like Texas-size huge.  Our cats deal with it better than our dog, Saffron.  We gave her the valerian-based calming supplement we use (RelaxSaver), put her in her awesome Thundershirt, and draped her in a sheet.  I’m always thankful when the weather is bad that Saffron is with us now and not still a feral dog left exposed outside to such scary things.

Sadly, this morning our neighborhood blog is full of notices of lost dogs & cats and one found dog because they ran off during the thunder.  Unless they just let their animals roam, most people don’t expect to lose their pets.  So, any lost-pet posters you see and any pets you see running loose who clearly have a family belong to someone who didn’t think their pet would get lost—meaning those pets belong to someone like you and me, someone who thought their pets were safe & protected.  We can all probably do more to make sure our pets are safe.

Thunder actually factors into the decisions I make about our cats and our dog. (Of course, it isn’t the only thing that informs our decisions.)

Thunder means:

  1. Our pets are micro-chipped, and we keep the contact information up-to-date.
  2. Our dog always has a collar with tags on when she’s outside.
  3. We never leave our dog tied up anywhere.  Ever.  (This is a bad practice at any time, but even worse for a panicked dog since escape or strangulation are quite possible.)
  4. Our cats are indoor cats.
  5. We never walk our dog off-leash in an unfenced area.
  6. Our dog isn’t left in our backyard when we’re not home.
  7. Our yard is has a fence tall enough that our dog can’t get over it.  You should realize, though, that a panicked dog can clear extremely tall fences, tear through a fence, squeeze through very small gaps, or quickly dig under a fence.
  8. We keep our gates locked, so they can’t be opened by strangers.
  9. We have gate springs to automatically shut the gates.  (Check out this post on how to install gate springs.  It’s easy & cheap!)
  10. I taught our cats and dog to never bolt through an open door and we have storm/screen doors, all to avoid accidental escapes.
  11. I make sure any open window has a screen that cannot be knocked out.
  12. We have calming supplements and calming pheromone spray on hand.  (I’ve been using RelaxSaver for our dog & Comfort Zone Spray for our cats.)
  13. We have a Thundershirt.
  14. Our cats have lots of hiding places around our house.
  15. We reassure our dog Saffron.  It doesn’t reinforce their fear to comfort your frightened dog.
  16. We run a fan and play music or watch TV, to help mask the thunder.

If your pet does panic and run away, this very thorough article has excellent advice, including putting out items scented strongly with your smells and your pet’s like your dirty clothes and your pets bedding or your cat’s litterbox.  Here are more good tips from a pet detective on finding your lost pet. Advice on how to make the most effective posters for your lost pet.  Post lost notices on Craigslist, with newspapers, and on your neighborhood blogs.  Be sure to watch out for scams.

Keep Your Pets Calm For The 4th Of July

In addition to these suggestions for keeping your pets safe around fireworks, there are a number of things you can try that can help lower your pet’s level of anxiety this 4th of July and during other stressful times.  Check out these products & techniques for keeping your pets calm—some of them might be new to you.

 

1.  Try calming supplements like:

2.  pheromone products like D.A.P., Feliway, Pet-Ease, etc. and can come in sprays, diffusers, & collars
3.  get an Anxiety Wrap or Thunder Shirt, both of which use pressure to calm your pup—Saffron has a Thunder Shirt and it really makes a difference in all kinds of stressful situations.  We’ve also used a child’s t-shirt that fits our dog Saffron tightly.
4.  cd from Through A Dog’s Ear—specially arranged music developed by psychoacoustic expert Joshua Leeds and veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner, which I know sounds awfully “woo-woo”, but you can find out more about psychoacoustic studies and the field of psychoacoustics.  You can listen to samples(via FullVetted)
5.  try:

6.  see your veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication specifically for your pet

Fireworks & Your Pets’ Safety

Unless they just let their animals roam, most people don’t expect to lose their pets.  So any lost-pet posters you see and any pets you see running loose who clearly have a family, belong to someone who didn’t think their pet would get lost—meaning those pets belong to someone like you and me, someone who thought their pets were safe & protected.  Most of us can probably do more to protect our animals, but this is especially important around holidays with fireworks.

The days following the 4th of July in the U.S. are very busy for animal shelters and tons of lost posters go up for cats and dogs.  Some shelters even stay open for holiday so people can retrieve their pets that escape.

Most cats seem to respond to fireworks by hiding, but they are still at risk for bolting in a panic.  Dogs are also at great risk of escaping, but they may also respond to their fear with destruction or even aggression.

If your pet panics and runs away, this very thorough article has excellent advice, including putting out items scented strongly with your smells and your pet’s like your dirty clothes and your pets bedding or your cat’s litterbox.  Here are more good tips from a pet detective on finding your lost pet. Advice on how to make the most effective posters for your lost pet.  Post lost notices on Craigslist, with newspapers, and on your neighborhood blogs. (Unfortunately, Petfinder no longer has a section for people to post notices of their lost pets.)  Be sure to watch out for scams.

The first step is to keep your pets safe:

  1. don’t take your dog to fireworks shows
  2. keep your pets inside, DO NOT leave them outside, even if you fear they may damage your home
  3. don’t leave your pets alone
  4. if you have to leave them alone, do not leave them where they can destroy things and possibly escape or harm themselves
  5. DO NOT leave them chain or tied anywhere—it can lead to strangulation if you dog panics
  6. make sure your cats & dogs have on their collar & tags, are micro-chipped & that their info. is current
  7. close all exterior doors, windows, and pet doors
  8. take your dog on a long walk early in the day to help expend some energy
  9. if you have a sensitive dog, keep her on a leash at all times while she’s outside for walks or to potty, even if you’re not near a fireworks show and even if you’re in your yard or neighborhood—panicked dogs can jump over tall fences and burst through gates they normally could not get over or through
  10. if fireworks go off unexpectedly and your dog panics, get her to any enclosed space
  11. consider feeding your dog well before evening—food can help make him sleepy
  12. don’t leave matches/fireworks lying around—it could lead to heavy metal poisoning
  13. don’t set off fireworks with dog around—it could lead to burns and serious injury
  14. don’t leave your dog in a car
  15. if your dog is already crate trained she may feel safest in her crate
  16. allow your pets access to the inner-most room of your house, provide blankets to burrow under, etc.
  17. play music or the radio
  18. remember a terrified cat or dog can behave out of character, don’t push their limits