Halloween Fun for Kids, but not Necessarily for Pets

With Halloween around the corner, veterinarians are cautioning pet owners to be aware of the stresses and dangers that come with the tricks and treats.

Veterinary behaviourist Dr Kersti Seksel from the Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney says 20 per cent of pets have an anxiety disorder and any change in routine can be upsetting to them.

“Halloween in Australia is not as popular as in the United States, but we are seeing an increase in trick-or-treating and often kids appear at the door not dressed as they normally are. You don’t have to look scary (to be frightening to animals) – you just have to look different,” says Dr Seksel.

When pets get scared, they can run away, become aggressive or become anxious.

“Even if your dog or cat is the most placid animal, on Halloween people look different and behave differently, and this can cause your pet to react unexpectedly,” she says.

During Halloween, ARH staff at the Homebush and Baulkham Hills clinics often sees pets suffering from injuries, car accidents, and chocolate and candy poisoning. Pets often become a target for tossing eggs, water balloons or streamers, and loud parties and firework displays can be terrifying to noise-phobic animals.

Ticks and snakes are also a great concern this time of year as bites can be deadly to animals. The ARH is open 24 hours, seven days a week, with specialist veterinarians and diagnostic equipment, including MRI, available on site.

Tips for a safe and stress-free Halloween for pets

“If you know your pet will be worried, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication (not sedatives, which do not decrease anxiety or fear),” says Dr Seksel, who is a specialist in behavioural medicine. “There are also pheromone collars and diffusers to help pets with mild anxiety which your vet can prescribe.”

Keep your pets indoors and stay with them if you can. Black cats can be the target of malicious acts and are best kept inside during this time, she says.

If you’re going out and nobody is home, put your pet away from the front door. If people come knocking on

“Make sure your pet is microchipped and carries an identification tag on the collar – with all contact details up-to-date, in case your animal goes missing,” she says.

Keep candy, wrappers, decorations and lighted pumpkins out of your pet’s reach. And if you decide to dress up your pet, ensure the costume doesn’t restrict movement, vision, hearing or ability to breath.

“Wearing a costume can be stressful for some pets so don’t dress your pet unless you know they enjoy it,” says Dr Seksel.

Also, best not to take dogs trick-or-treating as they may become excited and uncontrollable. You don’t want a frightened vampire dog on the loose!


For more information or media interviews:

Troy James, General Manager

Animal Referral Hospital


W 02 9199 8983/ M 0410 647 974



Dr Kersti Seksel, Veterinary Behaviourist

Animal Referral Hospital

M 0427 353 711

Image Source: By Jackins - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8443141


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