Easy tips to keep pets calm during Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations

Many official Halloween and Bonfire Night events will be cancelled because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

At-home celebrations will be plentiful and animal welfare experts are concerned about the effect it will have on pets.

And it’s not just the shock from the sudden bangs of fireworks that are likely to cause problems for animals. There’s a host of issues that can be linked to back garden events.

Animal health expert Melanie Sainsbury, veterinary education manager at pet ffod specialist Natures Menu, has compiled some top tips for UK pet-owners to ensure their furry friends remain stress-free and safe. 

Keep sweet treats to yourself

A lot of the sugary snacks consumed over this period can be toxic to pets.

Some 73% of pet owners are unaware that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, with symptoms can including vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, panting and restlessness.

In severe cases, it can result in muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.

If you think that sugar-free sweets are safer for your dog – think again. They contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is even more poisonous to pets than chocolate. Symptoms your pet may show include vomiting, loss of coordination and seizures, and in severe cases – liver failure.



Easy tips to keep pets calm during Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations
Two films have been made to help cats and dogs relax during Bonfire Night

If you suspect they may have ingested something toxic, call your vet immediately for advice.

Give your pet a suitable treat as a distraction

A bone is the ideal treat to give your dog this Halloween or Bonfire Night. The repetitive chewing motion releases serotonin – a chemical also known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone, which can help to promote relaxation.

A tasty chew can also help to keep your dog distracted from the sudden changes in sound.

Shut all curtains and blinds

Help to reduce noise and ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible by closing windows and curtains, putting on some music or TV, and providing a place for them to hide.

A local veterinary practice can offer help and advice on calming aids – remember to approach them far in advance of the celebrations as many calming aids should be used or administered in advance of the night itself.



A dog takes shelter from all the loud bangs on Bonfire Night
A dog takes shelter from all the loud bangs on Bonfire Night

Try not to make too much of a fuss of your pet when they are scared, as this can reinforce the idea that there is a need for them to be distressed – give your pet plenty of space to hide and comfort if needed.

Ensure pet is microchipped and collar information is up to date

As fireworks can continue for several weeks at this time of year, it is vital that your pet’s microchip and collar has all most recent information. Should they get spooked and run away, they can be safely reunited with owners. 

Safety in the garden

If you, or neighbours, are having a bonfire or firework display at home, make sure that you thoroughly clean the area afterwards.

Sticks or debris in the garden could cause your pet injuries such as wood splinters stuck under their gums and could even pierce vital organs.

Melanie adds: “Halloween and Bonfire Night are already known to be stressful times for animals due to loud noises, flashing lights and mischievous behaviour.

“However the celebrations are going to be happening much closer to home this year, so we must be even more prepared.

“It is vital that every pet owner takes measures to help safeguard their animals in the best ways they can.”