For many pet owners firework season can be a difficult time of year. However, there are some steps we can take to help our pets cope with the stress of fireworks...
Tips & advice for dog owners:
- If your dog wants to retreat, then let them. Provide a safe area to hide away – maybe a comfortable bed under a table, or an indoor dog crate (left open and covered at the top, sides and back with a blanket). Provide your dog with plenty of chew items so that it can naturally relieve anxiety if it needs to.
- Some people find that putting a tightly fitting t-shirt on a dog can help for the same reason that people feel safer curled up in a blanket when they feel worried.
- Despite some beliefs, it is ok to comfort your dog if they become worried during the fireworks. If your dog comes to you for reassurance or comfort, then you can do so by talking in a soft voice and giving them a cuddle. Equally, if your dog chooses to retreat and hide, then do not follow them, let your dog find a space where they feel safe.
- Walk and feed your dog whilst it is still light so they can have a pleasant time before the fireworks start. Keep your dog on a lead if you think they may startle and regularly check the condition of your leads and harnesses to make sure they aren’t damaged.
- Drawing the curtains to block out the flashes and turning the volume up on the TV or radio can help to block out any loud bangs
- There are some products for sale at our branch which can help to calm dogs during fireworks season. ADAPTIL is a product which can be bought in the form of a plug in diffuser or a collar. ADAPTIL contains a synthetic pheromone which only dogs respond to. The effect of this hormone is to calm dogs and make them feel safer in their environment. People who ADAPTIL often see a decrease in stress coping behaviours. Pet Remedy is another product that works in the same way as ADAPTIL and is also available in our shop.
- Other herbal remedies are also available in tablet form that can help dogs to cope with stress. Pet owners should start using these several weeks before bonfire night to allow the remedy to take effect. Please speak to our behaviourist for further advice on these products, you can call our centre on 01422 365628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- It is important to note that in the past many pet owners have been given sedatives to use at fireworks night. We now know that sedatives actually act as a chemical straight jacket, and that the animal is fully aware of what is going on, but can’t move to a place it feels safe, or outlet any of the anxiety it feels.
- A long-term solution to any noise phobia can be a sound desensitisation programme, but the animal should only be subject to this at a time of year when the noise is not likely to happen, so early in the year is the best time of year to desensitise your dog to fireworks. This should be done by contacting a qualified behaviour advisor who can guide you through the programme.
Tips & advice for cat owners:
Cats have super sensitive hearing and can hear noises much louder than humans do. Here are a few tips to help keep your cat calmer during this time.
- Make sure your cat is microchipped and your contact details are up-to-date in case they escape outside.
- Plug in a diffuser, such as Feliway a few weeks before firework season begins. Place the diffuser in the room where your kitty spends the majority of their time which will help calm them.
- Keep your cats indoors after dark to reduce the risk of them getting spooked. Make sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are closed.
- Whilst your cat is safe inside; make sure they have a litter tray, food and water bowls.
- Provide them with lots of toys or games to keep them occupied. A new toy may be a good distraction for them.
- Ensure they have a safe space with plenty of hiding places – our feline friends feel safer higher up; place a blanket lined cardboard box on a sturdy shelf to help put them at ease, or a cosy cat bed in an area where they feel safe. Also, give cats the full reign of the house to explore if they wish, they may feel confined if shut in one room.
- Closing your curtains and blinds can reduce flashes of light from fireworks and reduce anxiety.
- Distract your cat from the noise of fireworks by playing background music – the sound of a TV or radio can help reduce the stress. Classical music is a good choice!
- Stay home to keep them company if possible and try not to over comfort an anxious cat – by staying calm, you will help your kitty feel more settled. Allow them to come out of their hiding place when they are ready and avoid picking them up/cuddling them as this can make them more stressed. If your cat does want affection however, then please do give them some, just be guided by how they behave.
- If you are concerned about your anxious cat during the firework season, please speak to your vets for advice as soon as possible, before the season begins.
How to help small animals during fireworks
- Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so it’s soundproofed and hidden, leaving an area for animals to look out.
- Provide bedding for small animals to burrow in.
- Consider bringing them indoors – this will need to be done gradually, so plan ahead.
Keeping horses safe during fireworks
- Know in advance – check to see if there are going to be any firework displays in your area.
- Talk to the organisers – where possible, explain there are horses nearby and ask them to set off their fireworks in the opposite direction.
- Get advice from the British Horse Society (BHS) – for top tips on keeping your horse safe and secure during the firework season