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“Prepare for the scariest season for pets” says Blue Cross

A kitten hides  in a drawer under a bed

Autumn days are the most frightening for the nation’s pets and the clocks going back can trigger anxiety, Blue Cross is warning.

Our new research reveals a third of the nation’s cats and dogs become stressed and anxious because of trick or treaters and three quarters are afraid of fireworks. This means an overwhelming 11 million pets in the UK will be frightened over the coming weeks and many may struggle to cope.

Animal behaviourists say some pets even become ‘phobic’ when the clocks go back, as they learn that darker early evenings mean terrifying nights are soon to come.

Claire Stallard, Blue Cross Animal Behaviourist said: “This fortnight can be the scariest and most stressful time of the entire year for our pets. Strangers coming to the door dressed as ghouls at Halloween can be very confusing and frightening for them and many pets find the bangs and flashes of fireworks unbearably terrifying."

Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to help our pets cope with darker and louder evenings.

"Walk dogs much earlier in the day, keep cats in at night on the days leading up to and after fireworks night and stay at home with them on noisy nights. One of the most important things is to make sure they cannot get outside and become lost or injured.”

In Sheffield, a staggering 80% of pet owners say their pets are afraid of fireworks, which could mean it is the scariest place in the UK for pets at this time of year.

Nearly 70 per cent of pets choose to go and hide when there are fireworks, so Blue Cross recommends giving your home a thorough check as soon as possible to make sure pets cannot squeeze into unsafe places - like behind the fridge. On noisy nights it is vital to check doors and windows are firmly closed to prevent pets from bolting into the street.

Claire continued: “If pets choose to hide because they are frightened leave them be, so long as they are in a safe place. Some pets may choose to sit with you and get comfort from being stroked and although it’s upsetting to see our pets distressed, try to be calm and relaxed when you are with them as this may help them feel less worried.”

Some owners take advantage of Halloween to post images of their pets on social media. A fifth of owners in the survey admitted they snap their pet in fancy dress to share with their followers. As long as your dog is used to wearing a coat and the costume is comfortable this is usually a bit of harmless fun, but most cats won’t enjoy being dressed up at all so it is best to be avoided. However, Blue Cross advises that all pets are left at home if you decide to go trick or treating.

Owners also admit that there are negative changes to a pet’s routine over darker months with over two thirds saying their cat spends more time stuck indoors and almost half of dog owners take their pet out less or shorten their walks. 

Blue Cross offers advice to help dogs, cats, small pets and horses stay calm and safe over the forthcoming noisy nights. Watch the video and read top fireworks adivce now.

  • Research undertaken by Opinion Matters with 1,006 dog and/or cat owners (past and present)