Hospital for Small Animals

Autumn pet advice from the Dick Vet

Halloween and Bonfire Night are enjoyed by millions of people but can be stressful for pets. Read our top tips to help keep your pets healthy and safe this autumn.

Autumn, especially Halloween and Bonfire Night, is an exciting time; however, some seasonal activities can have a serious impact on the health of our animal companions. Here's our guide to keeping your pets safe this autumn.

Treat or trick?

Chocolate and artificial sweeteners can be harmful to pets, so please don't feed your animals human treats – choose something that is tailored to your pet’s dietary requirements. Keep sweets away from pets too – their wrappers and curious aromas could be tempting to your pet, and potentially harmful.

Halloween has lots of fun traditions such as carving pumpkins and decorating your home. If you decide to display decorations, make sure that your pet can't ingest or get tangled up in them. Pumpkins with lit candles inside can be a cause of serious burns to animals, or the catalyst for a fire if knocked over by an unsuspecting pet.

Fancy dress 

Some pets may not mind being dressed up in costumes, but others can find this very distressing and, depending on the quality and style of the costume, this can pose a danger to their health. Avoid costumes that inhibit your pet’s movement or could become snagged on objects such as furniture.

If you intend to go trick or treating, keep in mind that your own costume could be scary to some pets, as could the appearance of any costumed visitors who may knock on your front door. If you are unsure how your pet will react, try to keep your pet in a separate room where they will feel comfortable and at ease.

Sudden frights

Fireworks are very popular at this time of year, but can be very frightening for some animals. Here are our top tips for helping keep your pets calm on Bonfire Night:

  • Provide a safe place for your pet to hide – perhaps their favourite spot, or a quiet room with no external walls. In the days leading up to Bonfire Night, encourage them to visit this area so that it is familiar to them. 
  • Make sure that your pets are microchipped, so that if they do run away when scared, they can be returned safely to you.

Veterinary support

If you have previously seen your dog or cat behave fearful or anxious when they hear fireworks, please book an appointment to see your vet. There are various medical issues, especially painful conditions, which can cause or contribute to the development of noise fears, so having your pet checked over is important to rule such conditions out.

Your vet can also advise on the various treatments available to help manage noise fears:

  • Pheromone based products such as diffusers and collars may be helpful to make your pet feel more safe and secure
  • Some pets with more severe noise fear/anxiety may benefit from medication to be used when fireworks are expected
  • Behavioural therapy can also help a nervous pet. Your vet can advise and refer your pet to a qualified behaviourist if required.

On the day

On Bonfire Night itself, there are several simple measures you can take to help keep your pets calm:

  • Keep your pets indoors and keep curtains and doors closed.
  • Consider playing the radio or television to mask external noises.
  • You can also distract them with toys, treats or chews.
  • If they need a walk, go during daylight, and avoid firework sites.

Avoid taking your pet to a bonfire display with you. If you decide to have your own bonfire, remember to relocate the stack and all materials before lighting to avoid harming animals who might shelter there, such as hedgehogs or neighbourhood cats.

Hopefully, with a little advance planning, you and your pets will have a safe and enjoyable time this Halloween and Bonfire Night.


About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.