No Wonder Some Pets Are Afraid: Minimizing Halloween Anxiety
For many pets the parade of Zombies and Avengers appearing at the front door is scary, not to mention that doorbell ringing non-stop.
For pets bothered by the doorbell, put up a sign that says, “Please knock.” And place tape over that doorbell.
A bigger issue, in general, is that the front door opens and closes so often. And with that happening, especially if the pets are fearful, they can bolt out the door. Indeed, far too many pets are lost on Halloween. And even if that doesn’t occur, many pets are anxious about all the commotion. Here’s a secret weapon: Closed doors. Keep pets behind a closed door in a second bedroom, a den, basement or whatever sanctuary room makes sense in your home.
Nutraceuticals are part pharmaceutical and part nutritional supplement, a sort of hybrid between the two. Many of these stress-busting products are on the market but which ones are really effective? Only a pawful of products are supported by real science. Here are two:
Zylkene: A capsuled hydrolyzed milk protein product (for dogs or cats). It’s best to begin using Zylkene few days before Halloween.
Anxitane: Chewable tablets help pets keep calm and relaxed with L-Theanine,, an amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves,
Sanctuary Room Plan:
If there are lots of raucous trick or treaters where you happen to live, then – even if the weather is nice – close the windows and shades so pets don’t see or hear the goblins.
Music can be calming for anxious pets and at least to some extent drown out noisy Halloween door knocking or children giggling. But what kind of music? Could it be that dogs are a little rock ‘n roll, and cats may be a little country? Actually, it’s the classical music genre that seems to be the most relaxing for dogs and cats.
There’s even soothing music that’s specially produced for pets. The leader in the industry is ICalm which includes various packages and types tunes designed to calm dogs or cats. Victoria Stilwell offers calming music on her site, and A Sound Beginning also has calming music created for dogs.
Stuff treats or kibble or moist food into a Kong toy or any of the myriad of food dispensing toys now on the market. If your dog or cat (yes cats too) are working on figuring out how to get to the yummies, they won’t be simultaneously anxious about those noisy trick or treaters. (Warning: This method isn’t a good idea when multiple pets may be aggressive in a confined space about sharing food and/or toys).
When a family member is available, distract with a favorite game – that’s often an effective diversion, such as playing with a dog with a squeaky toy or using an interactive toy (fishing pole-type toy with feathers) to engage a cat.
- Feliway Classic is a copy of the comforting pheromone deposited by cats when they rub their cheek pads against your leg or a table leg. The cats are comfortably communicating “This is my world and welcome to it.”
- Adaptil is a copy of the calming pheromone found in the milk of nursing mothers to calm puppies, and the pheromone can take the edge off anxious dogs.
- Wearing a Thundershirt can also help many dog to feel more secure.
- Calming Care is a probiotic from Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets; simply sprinkle on the dog’s food or cat’s food. The stomach and the brain are indeed connected. A six-week supply of supplements contains a strain of beneficial bacteria known as BL999 that has shown to help keep dogs calm during stressful situations like separation.
- CBD: Anecdotal reports are that CBD for pets may help to relieve anxiety. Maybe. There’s no science regarding this – at least not yet. Also, beware, as not all CBD products are the same. See your veterinarian for the right choice.
No More Spooky
If you describe your pet as afraid or anxious all the time, talk with your veterinarian or contact a certified animal behavior consultant or a veterinary behaviorist. Never punish or holler your pet for being afraid, that will only have the opposite of the desired effect and create more fear, anxiety or stress.
No one wants their pets spooked on Halloween.