Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for your pets

Plan in advance to ease your pet's Halloween anxiety

As Halloween approaches, there are certainly plenty of potential auditory and visual stimuli for nervous animal companions. Not only can holiday decorations and specters of frightening costumes be potential triggers in sensitive pets, but the repetitive ringing of door bells and the coming and going of Halloween trick or treaters can also be overwhelming to some animal companions.

I find that decorating the homes early for Halloween many days to weeks before the actual holiday can help to desensitize some pets to the sights of potentially frightening images. Wearing costumes and/or masks in the quiet of the evening for a few minutes at a time may also help pets become less sensitized to these images when the actual day arrives.

For those pets who are overly sensitive to noises, sounds and door bells, it may help to start some natural calming supplements to help ease a tense nervous system. I have found the over-the-counter supplement L-theanine quite helpful here. This wonderful calming supplement has been studied throughout the world, and has been shown in many studies to significantly decrease anxiety in human patients. Doses for pets can range anywhere between 100 mg for tiny dogs and cats, up to 500 mg or higher for larger sized animals. The supplement can be repeated every 4 to 8 hours as needed during acute stressful times.

There is an excellent veterinary labeled product called Anxitane, which has as the main ingredient L-theanine. Calming flower essences such as the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy Pets with aspen and mimulus can also be quite helpful for sensitivity to loud noises and doorbells. These can be repeated as often as every 1 to 2 hours during an acute fright. The 1800PetMeds calming essences known as Be Serene also may be helpful. The herbal supplement Composure also has a nice combination of calming herbs that may help in some cases.

I have found certain homeopathic remedies such as aconitum in 30c potency also helpful to calm pets susceptible to acute frights. A dose of aconitum every 2 hours, up to a maximum of 3 doses can be tried the night of the Halloween holiday. Finally, if none of these measures help, some pets will benefit from low dose prescription medications such as acepromazine or alprazolam may be tried.  My best advice to animal guardians is to try some of the natural suggestions in the days leading up to Halloween to see if one may work more than the other.

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