13 steps to keep your dog safe from fireworks and bangers at Halloween

Is your dog spooked by fireworks? Here are some tips that might help them this Halloween
13 steps to keep your dog safe from fireworks and bangers at Halloween

Eight-week-old puppies Annabelle, Luna and Penny at Dogs Trust Ireland. The charity has seen an alarming 358% increase in people seeking advice on how to help their dogs cope with fireworks this year. Picture: Fran Veale

Halloween is a time of frights and surprises, but one member of your family will need extra care when things go bump — or bang — in the night.

Dogs can become very frightened at Halloween, especially when fireworks or bangers go off near your home. Loud noises like these can make your dog extremely anxious and they might even escape if the opportunity arises for them.

People are more aware than ever of incidents that can distress their pets, with Dogs Trust reporting a 358% increase in the number of dog owners looking for firework advice for their dog this year compared to 2019.

Fireworks can also have a devastating impact on guide and assistance dogs and their owners, according to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. The charity is supporting a number of their clients whose dogs have been adversely impacted by fireworks and bangers. Some of those dogs may need to be retired as a result.

“In a matter of weeks, my guide dog Sage has had a mental breakdown from the nightly bombardment of fireworks being set off near my home area. I’m devastated as I don’t know if she will be able to work again due to post-traumatic stress,” said Dublin guide dog owner, Ulla Quayle.

“She is terrified and is unable to leave our house. I’ve lost my guide dog until at least Halloween. Sage is now staying with a dog behaviourist who is working to desensitise her to fireworks. Hopefully, she can get her over this and get back working again.” 

There are a number of steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and safer for your four-legged friend this Halloween:

1. Tire out your dog by making sure they get plenty of exercise and a toilet break before it’s dark. They will be more relaxed and more likely to sleep through the evening.

2. Keep your dog indoors after dark in familiar, safe surroundings.

3. Let pets stay in general living areas where it's louder; and leave a radio or television on to minimise some of the external noises.

4. Train your dog to become accustomed to the sound of fireworks by playing similar sounds. 

5. Keep your curtains closed so they can’t see any fireworks.

6. Provide a safe hiding place for them if they need it, like under a table or under a duvet.

7. Don't fuss over a nervous dog as this can reinforce their behaviour. Instead, react calmly.

8. If your dog is likely to become particularly stressed, chat with your vet about natural remedies that might help them.

9. Licking objects such as Kong toys filled with treats may help ease your pet’s stress.

10. Be careful when opening your door as your dog may try to escape.

11. Make sure your home and garden are secure in case your dog tries to run away.

12. Check that your dog's microchip details are up to date in case they manage to get out.

13. Many human Halloween treats are harmful to our pets. Chocolate, raisins, grapes, and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything they shouldn’t have, please call your local veterinary practice immediately.

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