Our handy guide for fireworks and your pet
With up to 50% of dogs affected by the fear of fireworks the upcoming months are not pleasant for pets or their owners. We offer a few tips that may help alleviate the stress of the upcoming fireworks period.
Firstly we start with a plea to anyone planning a fireworks display, we’re not saying don’t set them off, rather keep to nights like the fifth of November and the surrounding weekends. A random display at 11 pm during the working week can cause more alarm than you realise.
Native wildlife and farm animals are also adversely affected.
Most owners know their pets are stressed by fireworks but many animals develop this fear as their hearing changes when they get older so be aware if your dog shows any of the following symptoms:
Trembling and shaking
Clinging to owners
Trying to hide
Toilet accidents in the house
Pacing and panting
Refusing to eat
Take action before the fireworks begin:
We suggest preparing well in advance. If you have moved recently, it’s worth checking your pets microchip details are correct. Statistics show there is a rise in the calls to Petlog at this time of year as many animals flee due to stress. 53% of microchips have incorrect owner details, which means if your pet goes missing they may not be returned home.
Check where and when fireworks displays are held in your area and also enquire if your neighbours are planning an unofficial display.
Create a safe place for your dog. Do this weeks before Bonfire Night so they can familiarise themselves with the den.
Cats tend to hide in high places, make a den here so they feel comfortable
Walk your dog before the 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, in case your pet is spooked.
During the fireworks:
Turn up the TV to mask the noise, close windows and curtains to muffle the sounds but don’t close all the doors because this will make your pet feel trapped and start to panic.
Keep them busy. Treat toys like a Kong can help distract them during a display.
Skip the celebrations and stay at home with your dog – your presence could make all the difference.
Remain calm and happy as this will send positive signals to your dog, particularly if this is their first experience with fireworks.
Keep a close eye on pregnant bitches as a fright from fireworks could cause an early delivery.
Don’t punish your pet if they do overreact, this will make things worse and they will become more distressed. Don’t force your pet to come to you, especially if they’re hiding or in their den.
There are several treatments you can try like Dog Appeasing Pheromones which 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.
There is 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.
You could try using a thundershirt which is 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.
Consult with your vet for more information.