Halloween has become increasingly popular in Spain over recent years as a night of spooky fun and festivities for all the family. Halloween is called "Noche de Brujas" in Spain and is celebrated on the 31st October each year in many countries all over the world. Also known as All Hallows Eve because it is the Eve of what is known to be All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. Many say that Halloween originated from the Pagan festival of Samhaim from ancient Celtic tradition that marked the end of summer and beginning of winter. All Saints is usually celebrated with a feast, bonfires and dancing and in some cultures it is a time to make contact with the deceased.
Nowadays, we often see Halloween celebrations in the form of trick or treating, themed parties, amazing costumes and decorations. Lots of people see this as time for some spooky dressing up, going out and having lots of fun. Usually for the Kids, they return home happily exhausted with a bounty of sweet treats!
Trick or treating is the tradition of visiting your neighbourhood by foot, dressed in spooky costumes and calling "Trick or Treat" ( in Spain you will hear the children calling "truco o trato"). If you find trick or treaters at your door, it is best to have some treats ready for them otherwise you are at risk of receiving a trick or two!
With the ever-increasing popularity of Halloween in Spain, more and more people are getting involved, and even getting their Pets in on the Spooktacular Festivities. Whether you decide to involve your pets, or if you just want to help your pet get through this frightful night, the best practice is to be prepawed!
If your pet has a nervous temperament particularly around sudden or loud noises, or gets over excited easily, involving them in the nights Halloween activities probably isn’t the best idea. Here are some ideas for preparing for Halloween with your Pets.
It would be advisable to protect your pet by providing a safe space for them to hang out at home, this is of course if you are hosting a party or expecting trick or treaters! Consider making a Den for your cat or dog, use a table for a dog and a card board box for a cat. Find a nice quiet and cosy place in your home, cover the table or cardboard box with a large blanket, place their bed inside with extra cushions and blankets, add their favourite toys and a water bowl for your dog.
It might be worth considering disconnecting the doorbell or popping a sign on your door asking visitors to knock. You could leave a bowl of treats in an elevated position at the front door for trick or treaters, so you and your pets don’t need to be disturbed at all!
If you decide to decorate your home with spooky decorations and accessories, please keep these decorations out of the reach of your pets. Dangly decorations and fake cobwebs will be irresistible to cats for example, so be careful that they are not tangled in light fittings. Things like little plastic bugs could be a choking hazard to dogs. Needless to say, you do not need your dog knocking over candle-lit pumpkins and candles that could cause a fire so it would be better to keep them situated in an elevated position.
Make sure that your pet´s microchip and collar with ID is up to date. This is just in case they get spooked (no pun intended!) and escape, or are accidently let out of your home with the traffic of visitors coming and going.
On the day of Halloween it would be ideal to take your dog out before dark for a good long walk. At nighttime you won´t be able to easily see the sweetie litter on the streets from Trick or Treaters and so there is a risk that your dog might eat sweets, chocolate or wrappers. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains “theobromine”. Dogs cannot metabolise theobromine as quickly as humans and so the levels can build up. This can cause effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, racing heart and in severe cases, seizures and heart failure. Xylitol is sometimes found in sugar free gum and sweets, this is a poison for dogs because even a small amount can reduce their blood sugar levels. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning can be vomiting, weakness, staggering and in severe cases collapse, seizures, liver failure and death. Please be aware and contact your vet if you are concerned for your pet. As you are probably well aware, ingesting sweetie wrappers could cause choking, or a blockage in your pet´s gut.
As night falls bring your pets inside your home, close the windows and curtains to help keep sound out. Pop the tv or radio on to diffuse any scary noises that could be heard. If you have a cat, you could consider having a litter tray inside the house for the night.
If your Dog is super easy going and totally enjoys getting involved with people and parties you may consider taking them with you trick or treating. Please do carefully consider what is mentioned above with regards to the dangers of Chocolate, sweets & wrappers. Again, be sure that their microchip or collar ID is up to date in case your dog slips their collar due to the possibility of firecrackers and fireworks. There will be a lot of children out and about, some of them very young who maybe nervous of dogs, please be mindful of this. It is always advisable to keep your dog on the lead, muzzled (where appropriate) and supervised at all times.
You may want to dress your dog up in a fun costume! There are lots of fantastic ready made pet costumes on the market, or you could get crafty and make one yourself. However, there are many factors to consider when dressing up your pet and it is generally advised not to do so unless your pet really loves it. So, for the Pets out there that just love a dress up, here are some things to consider:
Keep it minimal – most pets do not enjoy or tolerate well the feeling of being in a costume. Consider a simple costume or even a Halloween themed bandana instead?
Keep it comfy – read your dog´s body language and be respectful of it. A costume should not restrict their movement in any way. Some telltale signs that your Dog is unhappy or uncomfortable could be, tucking their tale under, hunching, ears are down and showing the whites of their eyes. Cats could become more aggressive or noisy and display excessive grooming.
be aware - there might be elements of a costume that could be chewed off and become a choking hazard.
A bulky and/or heavy costume could hinder your dog´s ability to display social signs to other dogs, this means that communicating during an encounter with another dog could be difficult for your pet.
Make sure that the costume fits the size of your pet correctly. If it is too big, it could cause either tripping or falling and if it is too small, it could cause overheating or breathing issues.
Why not make some Halloween treats for your pets to enjoy on the night? Or you could give them to Pet trick or treaters who visit your home! Be sure to advise owners of the ingredients in case of food allergies. Here is our tried and “personally” tested super easy recipes for homemade Pumpkin and Oat Treats made with 5 ingredients or less!
150 grams of Oat flour ( you can blend Oats to make flour)
30 grams of Oats
100 grams of Pumpkin Puree ( dice, boil and mash the pumpkin to make the puree)
2 large table spoons of Honey
2 teaspoons of ground Cinnamon
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the wet ingredients and mix until you have a ball of dough. On a oat floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into shapes using a cutter. You can bake them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10/12 minutes to make biscuits or keep them in the fridge as a soft treat ( ideal for older dogs). This mix makes about 35 small biscuits.
60 grams of Oat flour ( you can blend Oats to make flour)
60 grams of tinned tuna in brine ( one small can with water lightly drained)
40 grams of Pumpkin Puree ( dice, boil and mash the pumpkin to make the puree)
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until you have a ball of dough. make lots of little balls from the dough and lay out on a baking sheet. bake them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10/12 minutes. once cooled store in a jar, this mix makes around 70 little cat treats.
The proof is in the pudding as they say.......
The black cat is of course a symbol used regularly at Halloween due their connection with Witches! Many people are still quite superstitious of a Black Cat crossing their path, the omen being that it will bring you bad luck. Saying that, equally in many cultures a black cat crossing your path is considered to be an omen of good luck! Cats have been around since ancient times and seem to have been associated with sorcery & witchcraft in different cultures. If you are lucky enough to have a Black cat in your family be sure to give them some extra cuddles and snugs (just because you can!) just don’t leave the others out!!
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this article "Our Pets at Halloween in Spain" has been written in collaboration with Tangalina and White Mouse Media on behalf of Protectapet.