If you are like me, your doorbell is your dog. But when people ring your actual doorbell, all hell breaks loose. Especially when you have young kids in the house, the dogs barking at someone ringing (or knocking) at the door can cause unnecessary stress, both for you and your dogs. Normally, this stress lasts for just a few minutes, but on holidays like Halloween, when friends and neighbors are knocking every few minutes, it can send your pets over the edge.
On top of doorbell stress, holidays like Halloween come with a lot of extra noise and new people and can cause stress, which can increase the risk of runaways and fear-based responses in dogs, like aggression. Not only that, but candy and candles can pose an extra safety risk for your furry friends.
Rather than let your pets spend the evening in fear, there are a few ways you can alleviate stress this Halloween.
Create a calm environment in a separate room
Especially when kids are trick-or-treating and knocking on your door, it is important to keep your anxious pup in a separate room with a door or a gate. If your dog runs outside every time you open the door, is aggressive with new people, or is generally anxious when there is too much activity, putting them into a separate room with a calm environment can keep them from getting hurt or hurting others.
Make sure to put your pets favorite toy and bed in the room where they will be riding out the holiday. You may also find that playing classical music at a low volume helps keep them calm. Additionally, give them a toy that will occupy their mind for a bit (for example, a treat puzzle toy or a toy with peanut butter inside). Check on them periodically and give them lots of snuggles.
Do not let your dog outside without a leash
One of the biggest concerns on holidays — especially holidays when the door is being opened constantly — is a pet running away. Pay close attention to your dogs and cats when opening the door if you have chosen not to give them their own space.
When going outside, make sure to leash your dog, even if you normally don’t. Loud noises like fireworks, knocking, and kids yelling can set your dog into panic mode and send them running. Unfortunately, they may not run home and can become lost. Leash your pup and remember that if they are panicking, they should not be around small children.
Pay Attention to Pet Costumes
We have all been guilty of dressing our dogs up for Halloween, and for good reason. It can be adorable to see your dog dressed up as a cowboy or a little turtle. But it is important to avoid costumes with beading made of lead or zinc. If your pet is prone to chewing the costume off, swallowing lead or zinc can be toxic.
If your pet attempts to get out of a costume, be sure it is not too tight or difficult for them to get out of (as courtiner-intuitive as this seems). Tight straps or strings can result in your pet getting tangled and struggling or strangling themselves accidentally.
Move Candles and Jack-o-Lanterns
A nervous pet, dog or cat, might get antsy and knock over candles or jack-o-lanterns which can put your home at risk of a fire. Make sure to lift all candles and jack-o-lanterns with candles inside off of the floor and away from where your dogs or cats can bump into them.
Reduce Candy Risks
If you have a bowl of candy for trick-or-treaters or kids coming home with candy, there will likely be a lot of chocolate in the house. Aside from the obvious risk of chocolate, keep candy away from pets. Sugar substitutes sometimes found in candy, like Xylitol, are toxic to dogs and can cause seizures and death. Swallowing candy wrappers can cause the wrappers to become stuck to the intestines and may need costly surgery to remove.
Try calming essential oils
There are plenty of safe, holistic ways to keep safe this halloween. Using essential oils is a great start. Lavender oil is not only calming to people, but is calming to pets too. Use it in an oil diffuser or dilute with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, to put on the skin for a calming effect. Peppermint oil can also product a calm effect in pets and people alike.
There are a few oils that should be avoided in all animals. A few of the most popular oils to avoid using on pets include:
Tea tree oil
Try calming CBD oil
CBD oil has many amazing uses. It can ease aches and pains associated with arthritis, shrink tumors, and stop seizures. But one of the most common ailments CBD can impact is anxiety and stress. CBD oil for dogs can help stop noise anxiety (like fear of thunderstorms or doorbells), anxiety about new people, and stress that comes with the holidays.
My dog Odie has always been anxious. When people come to the door, he is the first to sound the alarms and bark until he can’t breathe. I started using CALM CBD Oil for Dogs from CBD Dog Health when I knew he would start to become stressed, and the difference is huge. CBD Dog Health’s CALM oil also has lavender oil and coconut oil in the ingredients, which furthers the positive calming effects of the CBD oil.
Your pet may need a combination of being in a calming room, with essential oils, music, and CBD oil, or they may be just fine with only one of these methods. Every dog is unique. The most important thing to remember is that your pet may be stressed, and treating that anxiety properly can help keep them safe.
About Angela Ardolino:
With over 25 years of experience caring for animals, Angela Ardolino is the founder and CEO of CBD Dog Health and House of Alchemy, LLC, a company dedicated to cultivating and processing the purest medical cannabis products, with the lowest environmental impact, for humans and pets. Ardolino is active in Women Grow and United for Care, and she holds a professional certification in Medical Cannabis for therapeutic use from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Ardolino is the co-owner of Beautify the Beast, a grooming salon in the Tampa Bay Area. Ardolino is also the mother of three dogs, Nina, Odie, and Jolene, as well as 23 ducks, 19 chickens, 9 geese, 1 bunny and a pig at her rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm. For more information, visit www.angelaardolino.com/.