The long summer days are a thing of the past and the darker nights are drawing in. Everyone's thoughts are now turning to the types of activities that we all associate with the autumn and winter.
The first real celebration of the autumn season is Halloween. A typical Halloween celebration involves scary costumes, tales of ghouls and ghosts, trick-or-treat, apple bobbing and pumpkin carving. Whilst humans can have a lot of fun at Halloween, the same is not necessarily the case for our furry friends who can find the experience rather more daunting and scary for all the wrong reasons. You can make your pet's Halloween experience a little more enjoyable and safe by following these tips:
1) Be vigilant when opening the front door. It is likely that you will spend the early part of Halloween answering the door to groups of kids dressed up in costumes and looking for sweet treats. With a bit of forward planning, you can reduce the risk of any unwanted escapes. It is really important to make sure that when you open the door, your furry friend doesn't take the opportunity to rush out between your legs. It is worth considering keeping your furry friend in a quiet room away from the front door to avoid him or her dashing off into the night! It is important that your cat or dog feels as comfortable as possible amid the unfamiliar comings and goings so make sure that he or she has a favourite bed and toy to hand. Noggins & Binkles have just launched a new range of organic cotton cat beds and dog beds which will keep your furry friend cosy and comfortable across the Halloween period. In addition, our vegan felt Halloween ghost cat toys with organic catnip will help to keep your furry friend entertained and distracted during Halloween but will also provide an opportunity for him or her to feel involved in the fun just like everyone else. Of course if your furry friend really doesn’t like strangers coming to the door, you may want to consider making it look like you are not in, by closing the curtains or blinds and dimming the lights or moving to a room at the back of your house for the evening, which should discourage people from knocking on the door.
Noggins playing with his Organic Catnip Halloween Ghost Cat
2) Ensure your furry friend is wearing his or her ID Tag. With an increased risk of your furry friend running out between your legs and into the night, it is more important than ever to make sure that your cat and dog are wearing their ID tags. We have previously written posts on what information needs to be included on a dog tag (see the post here) and on a cat tag (see the post here) so make sure that you are familiar with what is required. Our range of solid brass and chrome luxury engraved cat and dog ID tags, which can be personalised to include all the required information can be found here. And why stop there? Our luxury burnt orange vegan cork Halloween cat and dog collars with solid brass hardware are sure to make your furry friends the talk of the town at Halloween and are also the perfect autumn/fall and winter accessory.
3) Keep your furry friend away from sweet treats. Halloween treats often include ingredients which are not safe for pets. Chocolate can be poisonous to both cats and dogs and can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and an increased heart rate. According to the PDSA, chocolate contains ‘theobromine’ which is a substance found in dark, milk and white chocolate, and although dark chocolate contains the most, there is also enough in milk and white chocolate that could cause problems, so they recommend calling your vet immediately if any type of chocolate is consumed by your cat or dog. Many Halloween treats also contain artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol which can be harmful to cats and dogs. The best advice is to make sure that you keep any sweet treats out of reach of your fury friends and don't be tempted to let them share in the fun by giving them any Halloween treats. If your cat or dog develops any symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Bonfire Night & Fireworks
In the UK, hot on the tail of Halloween is Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night. Along with New Year's Eve, this is one of the most dreaded events in the festive calendar for our furry friends, primarily because of the fireworks, which can often last for several weeks either side of the actual date and then continue regularly until after New Year. In London we hear fireworks most weekends throughout November and December, although often on a smaller scale than the big professional displays that take place nearer the key dates. There are a couple of tips that can help make your pets more comfortable on Bonfire night and other times when fireworks are being set off. These include:
1) Don't let fireworks off in your own garden. Whilst you are unlikely to be able to escape the noise of fireworks set off by your neighbours or at community events, you can reduce the stress to your pets by not setting off fireworks right in your own back yard. Remember that fireworks set off in your own garden will be considerably closer, and louder, than fireworks set off further down the street or in the village or town square.
2) Keep your windows, doors and curtains closed. In addition to reducing the risk of your pets trying to escape, keeping your doors and windows closed will help to reduce the amount of noise that comes into your home during a nearby fireworks display. We also recommend closing your curtains or blinds because this can help to stop your furry friend being disturbed by the bright and unfamiliar flashing of fireworks outside.
3) Spend quality time with your pets. We recommend spending quality time with your pets during stressful times, including Bonfire night and New Year's Eve. This will provide reassurance to them and help them to avoid getting too stressed by the unfamiliar sounds outside. You can also distract them from the noises by spending time playing with them and their favourite toy or toys. Noggins and Binkles particularly enjoy playing with their interactive cat teaser wand toy with cork ball and often won’t notice anything else going on around them as they are so fixated on it! It also goes without saying that the humans will be having a pawty at home with Noggins and Binkles on New Year's Eve, so if you can be with your furry friends for the key noisier celebrations, we know they would appreciate it and find it comforting to have their humans at home.
4) Provide extra bedding. Some pets will want to build a den to try and escape from the noise of fireworks. You can provide extra blankets to help them to build a cosy den. Make sure your bedroom door is open as some pets, including Noggins and Binkles, love to hide under the duvet on the bed and often under the bed is also a safe place for pets.
As many of our followers will know, Mr Binkles was born in Mauritius (you can read about his journey to the UK here), where just under half of the population are Hindu. One of the most important events in the Hindu calendar is Diwali, also known as the 'festival of lights'. Diwali celebrations can last for up to five days and fireworks feature heavily in the festivities and can be set off at any time of the day or night so this can be a stressful time for pets.
New Year's Eve
Perhaps the biggest event of the year is New Year's Eve. Just like Bonfire Night and Diwali, one of the most important parts of welcoming in the New Year is the fireworks display, which is usually the most impressive, and loud, display of all. Whether you are watching a large community event in your country's capital city or participating in a small fireworks display closer to home, spare a thought for your furry friends during this time. All of the same tips for keeping your pets safe apply to New Year fireworks displays as to Bonfire Night and Diwali fireworks displays and a little bit of forward planning can go a long way to helping to keep your pet safe and comfortable at this celebratory time of year.