Fireworks and Your Pet
Fireworks are one of the most common triggers to a fear response, with up to 50% of dogs affected by the fear of fireworks. Vets 4 Pets in Carlisle, provide helpful hints and tips to make this time of year as as stress-free for your dog as possible.
Signs your pet has a fear of fireworks:
- Trembling and shaking
- Clinging to owners
- Excessive barking
- Trying to hide
- Toilet accidents in the house
- Pacing and panting
- Refusing to eat
Before fireworks begin:
- Create a safe place for your dog, ideally a crate. Do this three weeks before Bonfire Night so they can familiarise themselves with the den
- Turn off the lights, close curtains and turn up the TV to drown out the noise
- Cats tend to hide in high places, make a den here so they feel comfortable
- Don’t close doors, this will make your pet feel trapped and start to panic
- Walk your dog before dark and before fireworks begin, making sure they have been well exercised and have had a toilet break
- Feed your dog a good meal in the afternoon; try adding well cooked rice or pasta to make it stodgy, this will make them sleepy and hopefully calmer during the evening
- Make sure the house and garden are secure, remember to lock cat flaps, on case your pet is spooked
- Make sure all methods of identification are up to date in case your pet does manage to escape
During the fireworks:
- If this is your pet’s first experience of fireworks try to act as if there’s nothing to be scared of
- If your pet has a long-standing phobia give them attention as they require it.
- Find out how your pet copes and let them do this
- Don’t punish your pet if they do overreact, this will make things worse and your pet will become more distressed
- Try and keep your pet busy with games or reward based training
- Try not to leave your pet alone in the house
- Don’t force your pet to come to you, especially if they’re hiding or in their den.
‘Dog Appeasing Pheromone’
Pheromones are natural chemicals produced by animals to communicate with one another. Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is produced by mothers to reassure their puppies. ‘Adaptil’ collars and diffusers are available to help your dog deal with stressful situations by releasing the DAP.
Feliway for cats
When a cat feels safe it will rub its head against objects in the environment leaving ‘facial pheromones’ making them feel safe and secure. Feliway diffusers give off the facial pheromone and helps calm them in their surrounding environment.
Thundershirts are like giving your pet a big hug. They’re little t-shirts which are designed to be tight to the body, applying constant pressure like swaddling an infant. They have an 80% success rate so are a great alternative to medications. They can be used for fear, anxiety and over-excitement.
It is always best to prepare as far in advance as you can for fireworks, always try to desensitise your pet first before considering the use of veterinary products.
If your pet does react badly to fireworks it is best to contact the vets to discuss different options to help them cope in the future.