Fireworks may be great fun for us but they can cause distress and anxiety for our pets. Dogs, cats and small furries can all be affected by the loud bangs, lights, and even smoke associated with fireworks. Some dogs already become anxious when the clocks go back, taking the increasing darkness as the first sign that fireworks can’t be far…
Thankfully there are lots of ways that we can help our pets stay calm and relaxed during the firework season:
- Increase your dog’s exercise during the day so that they are more likely to be tired and relaxed in the evening. Don’t walk them after dark when fireworks are likely to go off. Make sure you keep cats inside after dark, provide a litter tray and lock the cat flap.
- Draw curtains, keep lights on and switch on the radio or tv to help block outside sounds.
It can really help to provide your pet with a ‘den’, a safe secure place where they can go and hide if that is what they would like to do. A covered box or crate is ideal, but there are other simple solutions such as a space under a bed or inside the wardrobe. Hutches and cages should ideally be brought inside and they should have plenty of bedding and spaces to hide too.
- Check on your pet occasionally to monitor their anxiety level but don’t sit and cuddle them in an attempt to make them feel better. Dogs especially interpret reassurance as praise: they will think you agree that there is something to be worried about. Instead stay calm and and relaxed to show that there is no problem.
- See if your dog will be distracted by a new toy or a chew. A Kong toy stuffed with some tasty treats may help to take his mind off the scary noises. Some animals will refuse food when anxious so don’t be worried if he shows no interest.
- There are some great products available that can help create a calm environment for pets, such as an Adaptil diffuser for dogs or a Feliway diffuser for cats. The diffuser releases a synthetic formulation of an animal pheromone that signals to your pet that their environment is safe and there is nothing to worry about.
- There are other options to supplement the benefit of the Adaptil and Feliway diffusers. It may be worth bringing your pet for an appointment and discussion with your vet who can prescribe a number of products. In addition to our tried and tested options we are expecting a new product very shortly so do pop into the surgery and have a chat with our staff if you are at all worried.
- For severe cases of anxiety causing noticeable distress in your dog, your vet may advise using a tablet to induce a light sedation to help your pet to relax. This is available strictly on prescription only and should only be used if you will be at home to monitor your dog’s behaviour and well being.
- There are CDs available which help habituate your dog to the noises they dislike, including fireworks. Please ask us if you would like more information on these.
- NEVER reprimand or become angry at your pet for their anxiety – you will be almost certain to make it worse. Save your attention for when they show any relaxed behaviour and reward this with a food treat or by stroking and massaging to reinforce a sense of calm.
If you would like any further help or advice please contact us.
Wishing you and your pets a happy and safe firework season!