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Protecting Animals at Halloween

Halloween trick-or-treating is an exciting time for kids but the weeks around the occasion can also be a distressing time for our pets.

Each year in Ireland, animal rescue centres and veterinary practices around the country are inundated with animals needing attention due to Halloween celebrations.

Animals can become so terrified from the noise of bangers and fireworks going off near their homes that they are driven to extreme behaviour. The ISPCA recommends you should always have effective pet identification such as an ID tag on your pets collar and a micro-chip in the event your pet escapes.

Keeping animals secure:

Dogs and Cats

  • Steps can be taken to minimise the stress caused to pets by training them in advance of the Halloween festivities. The use of dog appeasing pheromones can also be effective. Consult your vet or animal behaviourist for advice.

  • Pets should have somewhere to hide where they feel secure. They should have access to this refuge before the bangers and fireworks start.

  • Bring pets into a quiet room within your house, close windows and curtains, and play music to mask the noise of fireworks.

  • If your pet is showing signs of fear do not react or make a fuss as this will make matters worse. As difficult as it may be, try to ignore fearful behaviour.

  • Anxiety in the animal can be reduced by altering feeding regimes. Feeding later in the evening will encourage the animal to eat during what are anxiety creating periods.

  • Licking objects such as Kongs filled with peanut butter will help reduce stress.

  • Playing with your pets can be effective in reducing stress if they are up for a game. If not, do not try to force them.

  • Keep pets away from any dangerous or flammable items including candles, bonfires and fireworks.

  • If children will be calling to your door trick-or-treating make sure your pets are securely confined so they cannot stray through an open door or react negatively to scary costumes.

  • Keep pets away from decorations and sweets that could be harmful if ingested. Remember that chocolate is very bad for your pets.

Small Animals

  • Small animals and birds normally housed outside should ideally be moved into a garage or shed. If this is not possible cover hutches or cages with blankets or carpet to act as sound-proofing.

  • Provide increased amounts of bedding for extra security.


  • Horses, ponies and donkeys that live in areas where there is a considerable amount of Halloween related noise should be securely stabled to prevent them doing damage to themselves.

Unfortunately stray animals sometimes bear the brunt of Halloween pranks. If you witness an animal being subjected to cruel treatment, please notify your local Gardai and contact the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.  Please help us stop the mistreatment of innocent animals.

Take precautions to ensure your pets stay safe, calm and remain indoors around Halloween. With a little caution, Halloween can be a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.