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ISPCA offers advice and safety tips for a safe Halloween

Halloween can be one of the spookiest nights during the year, but you can help keep your pets safe with our safety tips and advice below.

The ISPCA would like to remind the public to be aware of the dangers that Halloween poses to the wellbeing of all animals and to take extra measures to safeguard the safety of not only domestic pets but farm animals and wildlife too.

Fireworks
In a recent National Fireworks Awareness Campaign, ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling spoke about how Halloween can be a frightening and dangerous time for animals due to the use of illegal fireworks. They cause significant distress for pets, other animals and livestock given their heightened senses of hearing and smell. 

“We would ask those considering acquiring or using illegal fireworks to think about the impact it has on others – on the elderly and infirm, on our emergency services, and on our pets. And to ask themselves, is it really worth it?”

  • Fireworks are illegal and dangerous - members of the public are encouraged not to buy, sell or use them.
  • Serious penalties can be imposed for the misuse of illegal fireworks - Fines of up to €10,000 or 5 years imprisonment, or both, can apply.
  • Fireworks cause significant distress to animals and to a wider section of our communities.
ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling talking about the dangers of fireworks (Video Credit: Courtesy Steve Humphreys /Irish Independent / Mediahuis )
 

Some pets can be terrified by the sound of fireworks so ensure they are kept safe in a secure area where they cannot dart out an open door from the noise.  It’s a good idea to walk your dog early morning and before dark, keeping them away from any fireworks in the area.  Pet owners can help train their dogs and cats to become accustomed to the sound of fireworks by playing similar sounds.  Try keeping the lights low, and playing a radio or television in the background to help drown out some of the noise outside. As difficult as it may be, try not to react to your pet showing signs of fear as it may be the best way you can help them. Licking objects such as kong toys filled with treats may help ease your pet’s stress. It is important that they have a safe, secure place to hide indoors if they are scared. If you are concerned that your pet is unmanageably terrified of the noise of fireworks, you should consult your vet to discuss ways for managing your pet’s stress.

Halloween Costumes
Some pets may find wearing Halloween costumes stressful. Consider festive-themed bandanas instead which will be less restrictive. If you do choose to put your pet in a costume, make sure it does not limit the animal’s movement, vision, ability to breathe or behave normally.

Sweets and Wrappers
Chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to pets, as are any sweets containing the sugar substitute xylitol and should always be kept out of reach from curious paws and noses.

Indoor Hazards
Keep dogs and cats away from wires, decorations and candles.  Ingesting foil or plastic wrappers can also lead to digestive problems and may require surgery. If your pet does ingest something toxic, contact your vet immediately.

Microchipping – it’s the law!
The ISPCA strongly recommend that all dog owners have their pet’s microchipped. It is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old and failure to do so, is an offence under the Animal Health & Welfare Act (AHWA) 2013. Dog owners need to be in possession of a microchipping certificate also so it is important that your contact details are kept up-to-date on the microchipping database. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to inform the database operator of any change so once your dog has been microchipped, check it to ensure your details are correct. If your pet becomes lost, having them microchipped is the best way to ensure they will be reunited with you. Lost pets put extra pressure on animal rescue centres, dog pounds and veterinary practices but it also causes more upset for pets and pet owners so don’t delay and get your dog microchipped today – it’s the law!  While microchipping is recommended for cats, there are no current plans to make cat microchipping compulsory.

Outdoor Pets
Horses, ponies and donkeys should be securely stabled to prevent them from escaping or hurting themselves if they live in areas with a considerable amount of Halloween-related noise. Small mammals or birds should be kept indoors such as a garage or a shed, covering over hutches or cages with blankets to act as soundproofing.

Look out for wildlife
Hedgehogs go into hibernation this time of year and will sleep in woodpiles or heavy scrub and leaves. It is important you check under all woodpiles before lighting any bonfires to ensure there is no wildlife hibernating. Some outdoor plastic decorations such a fake spider webs or string lights can snare wild animals, so be careful if hanging them and ensure they are removed after the festivities.

Report Animal Cruelty
Unfortunately, stray animals can fall victim to abuse or cruel Halloween pranks. If you witness any animal cruelty, please contact your local Garda station immediately and report it in confidence to the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 0818 515 515 or report online here

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