As fireworks season is approaching, we see many worried owners contacting the practice for help and advice to reduce their pet’s fear and anxiety. Up to 50% of dogs may be affected by fear of fireworks and we also know that cats and small animals can be affected too. When our pets are scared, chemicals are released in the brain as a survival mechanism- also known as the ‘ fight or flight’ response. Our pets can show the physical symptoms of fear, leading to signs, such as:
trembling and shaking
clinging to owners
cowering and hiding
trying to run away
soiling the house
We also know that there are other factors which can worsen the fear response in our pets, such as illness, old age and some genetic factors. One of the most important factors which can worsen noise and firework fear and phobias are a lack of socialisation and lack of exposure to these noises when our pets are very young.
However, there are lots of things we can do to help our pets to prevent become fearful of fireworks and to reduce their stress on the night, so don’t ignore the problem, get help from your vet!
Preparation is key Below are a few tips to keep your pet calm during the fireworks season. We want to teach our pets to become acclimatised and train our pets not to be scared in the first place. There are several sound CDs available which, if used correctly, can desensitise your pet. If necessary, your vet can refer your pet to a behaviourist for a tailored plan.
Talk to us about pheromone diffusers (Adaptil, Feliway) These disperse calming chemicals to help soothe your pet and are completely safe.
If you think your pet needs medication to cope with fireworks season, it is extremely important to talk to us well in advance of the night in order to discuss which options are best. There are several natural-based products now which can be very effective to calm your pet in addition to the traditional medicines we use. There are also wraps which tightly fit your pet known as Thundershirt and Anxiety Wrap which apply constant pressure to your pet’s body- these have been shown to reduce stress and fear in dogs.
1) On the Night - Exercise your pet before it gets dark- Burn off some energy and get the happy hormones going to tire them out before the fireworks start. Ensure your pet is microchipped in case they escape. 2) Provide a den - create a safe place for your pet to hide. Putting a jumper with your familiar smell can reassure them. Best to make the den prior to the event as this enables your pet to become used to it and put plenty of treats and toys in there to distract them. Never confine your pet and allow them to find their own safety place if they want. 3) Reduce the outside sounds, smells and lights by putting on the tv, playing music and closing the curtains. 4) Stay calm! Ignore any fireworks going off as they will pick up on your reaction. Monitor your body language and tone of voice to quietly reassure your pet. It is very important not to punish fearful behaviours or fuss over them too much as this will make the behaviour worse.
Cat owners Make sure your cat has lots of places to hide. Don’t try and force your cat out of its hiding place
Small animals If your pet lives outside, Cover the hutch/aviary or pen with blankets to muffle the sound. Make sure they have plenty of bedding to burrow into to feel safe.
Finally, more than half of fearful dogs develop noise fear AFTER their first birthday. Onset is gradual and it only gets worse. If you are worried about your pet this fireworks season or have any questions, please contact us!
To book an appointment please get in touch with the team: 0141 889 3010 | firstname.lastname@example.org 52 Love Street | Paisley | PA3 2DY