Halloween Anxiety

Many pets never received the memo that Halloween is supposed to be a good time.

They truly are spooked by all those creatures that smell like humans but resemble zombies or superheroes, even American Presidents. And for many pets the constant ringing of the doorbell and all the commotion is upsetting.

Halloween can be scary (and not in the fun way!) for your pup

For two reasons ensconcing those animals in a room behind a closed door is a really good idea. If sequestered to the basement or a bedroom, there’s no concern about the pet bolting out the front door. This is a real problem, as many pets are reported lost around Halloween. Also, you can better manage the fear, anxiety and stress many animals are feeling.

Think about it. No one wants their pets to feel afraid – even on Halloween. The good news is that you can do something about it, which is what the international Fear Free initiative is all about.

Preparation starts a few days before Halloween.

Plug in pheromone diffusers in the room that you’ll soon choose as the sanctuary room when the trick or treaters begin to ring the doorbell. Adaptil diminishes anxiety in dogs and Feliway Classic is the pheromone product for cats.

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 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 puppies.
Using these analogues of naturally occurring pheromones is an easy and way to take the edge off, helping to keep pets comfortable in their own environment.In the room the pet is sequestered in, close any windows, so pets don’t hear the rowdy trick or treaters, and so the pheromone trail doesn’t drift out the window.

Turn on your favorite talk radio station as background, or pump up relaxing music.
These days, there’s even soothing music that’s specially produced for pets. ICalm includes various packages and types tunes designed to calm dogs or cats. Victoria Stilwell also offers calming 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 soothing for dogs and cats. In one study, reggae was actually calming to dogs, giving a new meaning to Marley and me.

Distraction is another smart strategy.

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 the yummies, they won’t be simultaneously anxious about those noisy trick or treaters. (Warning: This method isn’t a good idea when pets are 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 the dog using squeaky toy or using an interactive toy (fishing pole-type toy with feathers) to engage a cat.

If you’re unable to distract your pet, and that background music won’t do the trick there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of going a step further; in fact, it may be the most humane solution for canine and/or feline nervous nellies. Nutraceuticals are a great place to begin, and can be acquired online or through your veterinarian.

Zentrol is a proprietary blend of plant extracts. Studies have demonstrated this chewable can lower fear, anxiety and stress. Studies have also demonstrated that dogs exhibit fewer “negative behavior” resulting from fear, anxiety and stress. Some caretakers suggest their dog is “acting out,” when, in fact, the dog is anxious.

Zylkene demonstrates grandma was right about a glass of warm milk being relaxing. Zylkene contains bovine-sourced hydrolyzed milk protein, an ingredient that has calming properties
For dogs specifically terrified of loud noises, do speak with your veterinarian about a pharmaceutical SILEO (dexmedetomindine oramucosal), which does require a prescription. SILEO is an oromucosal gel (which means it is applied to the pet’s gums) and is quick-acting.

If you describe your pet as afraid 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!

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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv


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