For many of us, myself included, Halloween is the best time of the year. You get to dress up to become someone or something else, and eat candy – what’s not to love?
Not all species, however, are as taken by this strange holiday as we are.
And in fact, our canine buddies will often be confused, anxious and scared at what they’re seeing and hearing. Plus, there’s the added danger of them getting into some of that candy – particularly the chocolate, which they will find tasty but definitely regret.
So how are we to handle the situation? Whether we’re Halloween lovers or not, the day will happen: kids will knock and ring the doorbell, and our pets will see them walk by in all sorts of strange attire.
The first step is to keep your dog as comfortable as possible – away from windows and the front door, in a quiet area where he can have a nice something to chew on.
Halloween is just weird for pets and probably the best thing is management in that the guardian keeps the dog in a quiet or safer place. If the dog has a history of fearfulness this can come out.
In addition to that, here are some other tricks you can try:
They don’t call it Rescue Remedy for nothing!
Bach’s Rescue Remedy was developed specifically for times of stress for both humans and animals.
The formula contains five Bach Flower Remedies:
- Star of Bethlehem
- Rock Rose
- Cherry Plum
It also comes in a pet formula that is preserved in glycerin for sensitive pets instead of the human version, preserved in brandy. The human versions of the remedies (preserved in brandy) have been used on animals for more than 80 years, according to bachflower.com.
Rescue Remedy can be used for things like vet visits, thunderstorms, and yes, Halloween time.
These remedies are very safe and nontoxic. According to Certified Bach Flower Practitioner Kelly Holland Azzaro, RA, CCAP, CBFP, LMT, Bach Flower Remedies are the essence of a plant, flower, water or mineral. These essences are created by sunlight infusion method and are so gentle they will not interfere with any other treatments or medications and have no side effects.
Try adding two drops of Rescue Remedy Pet in your dog’s drinking water, add a drop to a treat or on food, or rub a drop on his paws or ears for his Halloween anxiety.
For severe cases, Rescue Remedy can be given every 15 minutes until he starts calming down.
What is CBD oil? It’s a natural substance found in the hemp plant. For 1000s of years, people have been using the hemp plant for everything from rope to medicinal purposes. One of those medicinal purposes is anxiety relief.
CBD oil comes from the same source as marijuana, but it doesn’t have the THC component, so it doesn’t make your dog “high”. Instead, it works to naturally calm and soothe anxiety and stress.
To give it to your dog, follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. You can add it to your dog’s food or place it straight in her mouth.
Even though it’s called a ThunderShirt, a pressure wrap like this should be in your Halloween anxiety bag of tricks.
According to its website, it “applies gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant.” This is comforting to many dogs (including my own) with anxiety, fear and excitement issues. The Anxiety Wrap is a similar concept, and “uses acupressure and gentle, constant, maintained pressure to relieve stress and end or lessen fears in dogs. Created in 2001, it was the first of its kind on the market and invented the category of pressure wraps.
“The Anxiety Wrap mainly alleviates or lessens five major conditions: fear, anxiety, hyperactivity, insecurity and shyness. These conditions are the root of many unwanted behaviors in dogs.”
Tellington TTouch Method
The TTouch is based on circular movements of the fingers and hands over the body, according to ttouch.com.
For 1000s of years, people have been using the hemp plant for everything from rope to medicinal purposes. One of those medicinal purposes is anxiety.
Founded by Linda Tellington-Jones, the Tellington TTouch Method uses a combination of touches, lifts and movements to relieve tension and increase body awareness in order to help an assortment of issues, including excitability, extreme fear and aggression.
Considering its tension-relieving abilities, it could definitely come in handy come Halloween. Though there are many other TTouch movements, Tellington-Jones shared The Basic Circle in the September/October 2015 issue of Dogs Naturally Magazine. Here it is for you to try:
- “The basic TTouch circle is made by gently moving the dog’s skin in a circle-and-a-quarter. Envision the face of a clock where the movement will begin with six o’clock toward the ground. The TTouch circle moves the skin with a light contact with your fingers from six o’clock around the clock face to nine, then 12, on to three, to six, and finally up again to the nine o’clock position.”
- “To begin a TTouch session, choose a place on your dog’s body where he enjoys being touched. The shoulders are usually a good place. Use the pads of your fingers with the lightest contact to move the skin in a circle-and-a-quarter.”
- “After each TTouch circle, pause and slide your fingers lightly to another spot to repeat the next TTouch.”
Essential oils are a natural but powerful medicine.
It’s important to get high-quality oils, to always dilute the oil or oils in a carrier oil, never give the oil to your dog internally and avoid using it with cats, birds, reptiles and fish.
Diffusion is great for stress. Lavender oil can bring about calm to your environment and work wonders for your dog’s anxiety.
Read this article on using essential oils safely for fearful dogs before you try the following recipe from Registered Aromatherapist and Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner Kelly Holland Azzaro.
Recipe For General Fear or Anxiety
This mixture contains neroli, petitgrain and lavender in a carrier oil for topical use. Mix really well.
Start with a carrier base For Topical Blends such as:
- jojoba oil
- OR aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) gel 2oz.
- OR lavender hydrosol for a spray mist
Suggested Essential Oils:
- 8-10 drops of neroli
- 6-8 drops of petitgrain
- 4-6 drops of lavender
Spray lightly onto the back of your dog’s neck or rub on her collar.
Classical music seems to be good for us, is it good for our pets too? According to at least one study, the answer is yes.
The Colorado State University study (published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior) linked classical music to more time sleeping and less vocalization in the kenneled dogs studied compared to other types of music or no music at all. Heavy metal music seemed to increase body shaking, which is viewed as a sign of nervousness.
In other words, if you’re worried about your dog on Halloween night, play him some Beethoven or Mozart! (If you don’t have any classical music, here’s a helpful site.)
Oh! And Don’t Forget the Pumpkin
If you know your dog’s stomach gets affected when he’s stressed, you might want to have some 100 percent organic canned pumpkin (not pie filling) on hand for loose stool or diarrhea.
Jean Dodds DVM suggests in her blog to work up to one tablespoon per day for smaller dogs and two tablespoons per day for larger dogs. You’ll want to build up to the full dose over time so as not to upset your dog’s stomach. So if Halloween is the first time you’re trying the pumpkin, don’t go with the full dose right off the bat.
Halloween Isn’t For Everyone
As much as you might love Halloween, your dog probably doesn’t. Keep that in mind and give him some extra love and care around this stressful time, and he’ll be extremely grateful to you.