Pet anxiety around Halloween

Kirstin Carey
Registered Veterinary Nurse.


October is Pet Anxiety Month

Halloween is an exciting time of year for many. It is a time for dressing up in spooky costumes, trick-or-treating and consuming a vast amount of sweets. Halloween can also be a very stressful time of year for both owners and their pets. Our pets can become anxious and stressed when they notice a change in their environment and daily routines. Fireworks, loud noises, Halloween decorations and costumes are all considered to be triggers of stress and anxiety.

Anxiety in pets can present itself in many ways. Some of the signs too look out for with your dog’s include;

  • Barking and panting
  • Increased urination
  • Pacing
  • Attempting to escape the house
  • Shivering 
  • Overall change in normal behavior 

Signs of stress in cats can include;

  • Increased vocalisation
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Sleep disturbance 
  • Over-grooming
  • Urination around the house (not in litter tray)
  • Hiding more than usual

There are a number of methods we can use to minimise stress and keep our pets happy during the spooky season.

1) External influences 

Keep pets indoors as loud noises like fireworks and firecrackers can be very scary and may result in pets escaping their familiar surroundings. It is also a good idea to keep curtains and blinds closed so our furry friends cannot see the bright lights of the fireworks in the sky. Ensure windows and doors are closed to prevent cats and dogs from bolting.

2) Safe space

Have an area prepared in the weeks leading up to Halloween where your pet can hide and feel safe i.e., a crate, a box with a towel or blanket covering it. Add blankets to make it a comfortable space and put their favourite toys in there. 

3) Distraction

Toys are a great tool to create a distraction. Balls, chew toys and enrichment toys e.g., Licking mats and WestPaw toys such as the Qwizl or Toppl ( these can be filled with your dogs favourite treats) can all be used to promote mental stimulation.

Cats also enjoy playing with toys and puzzle toys which act as a great distraction.

Turning the radio on or TV in the room where your pet is can help to drown out loud noises. Classical music, cat and dog specific music have been shown to reduce stress levels in pets.

4) Calming aids

The use of pheromones for both cats and dogs should be used in conjunction with other calming measures to reduce stress and anxious episodes. A pheromone is a chemical that is specific to each species that comforts the pet and allows them to know they are in a safe space. Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats are products on the market that have been created using synthetic pheromones.

Adaptil comes in the form of a plug-in diffuser, a plastic collar containing the pheromone and tablet form.

Feliway is sold as a plug-in diffuser and spray bottles. Ideally these products should be used in the lead up to Halloween.

Some pets may require extra medical support. Zylkene is a calming supplement that can be used in both cats and dogs to ease anxious behaviour. This product is best used 3 days prior to the stressful event. 

5) Desensitisation

Desensitisation is a technique used to decrease the negative response to a stressful event. Playing firework and firecracker noises on your phone at a low volume over and over again, especially in the lead up to Halloween can help your pet become desensitised to the noise. Positive reinforcement with treats after each noise is a good idea. 

In the unfortunate event that your pet escapes the house during Halloween, it is so beneficial to have them microchipped and of course wearing a collar and identity tag.


If you are worried about your pet this Halloween, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team members at any of our branches. We hope you and your pet have a safe and happy Halloween.