Fireworks are used in celebration of many events throughout the year but the one time in the UK when they really are a menace is around November 5th also known as Firework Night, or Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night.

Follow these tips to help your pet cope with firework fears:

Provide a den or hiding place:-

Ensure your pet is safely inside and secure doors, windows and cat flaps.

Allow your dog or cat to hide in a bolthole where they feel safe. Animals naturally hide when they are scared and it can help to provide a ‘safe place’ which they can squeeze into, like an understairs cupboard or an indoor kennel with blankets over the top and inside. An ideal place is somewhere near the centre of the house, or somewhere they have previously hidden. You can further increase this feeling of security by plugging in a D.A.P. or Feliway Diffuser

Keep them inside:-

Don’t let pets outside when fireworks are likely or during a display. In the run up to the firework season, ensure dogs are used to being taken for walks early in the evening and cats are provided with litter trays and then keep them indoors. A firework going off when they are outside can lead to a fear of going out.

 Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped. If they do escape, frightened animals can easily get lost.

 Muffle the sound of fireworks:-

Close the curtains, shut outside doors and windows, and have your pet as near to the centre of the house as possible. Play music or put the TV or radio on to mask the bangs and act as ‘normal’ as possible. 

Don’t over-fuss them:-

This can be difficult, but if they rely on you for comfort during scary events, they will be less able to cope when you are not at home and make matters worse in the long term. 

Stay calm yourself:-

Ignore any fearful behaviour and do not try to comfort your pet. Most pets can sense when their owners are worried and this increases their stress. Let them hide in the den, and leave them there until the fireworks have finished and they come out. Cats prefer to be left to cope on their own. You can give your pet lots of fuss once they emerge.

Don’t get angry:-

Although your pet’s behaviour may be annoying, it is happening because they are scared and getting cross will only make them worse. Don’t try and take your pet out of its hiding place – this increases their stress and could lead to aggression.

Don’t punish your pet, regardless of his behaviour, as it will only make him more distressed.

Prepare for Unusual Behaviour:-

Try not to leave your pet alone when fireworks are going off. Pets may hurt themselves or cause damage if they are not supervised. Fear can make your pet behave out of character. For example, if they anticipate that going into the garden predicts a loud noise, they may hide or show aggression to avoid going outside.

Talk to your vet:-

Speak to your vet. They can advise short-term measures which may include medications, particularly if they don’t settle but pace around in distress. This will help reduce your pet’s stress during upcoming firework events and help prevent their fears becoming worse. Your vet can also advise a long-term preventative approach.

D.A.P. Spray can be used to give dogs additional support on the night of the event.

After the firework season contact your vet to ask about treatment for your dog’s fear of fireworks. D.A.P. and the Sounds Scary CD therapy pack have been scientifically proven to be an effective combination for treating firework phobias in dogs: (www.soundtherapy4pets.com )  Your vet may also wish to refer you to a qualified behavioural therapist.

What to do in the long term:-

Fears of fireworks don’t get better on their own – in fact they are likely to get worse over time and lead to other behaviour problems. Behaviour therapy (including noise desensitisation) is generally very successful at changing the response to fireworks and other loud noises, but the earlier you seek help, the better the outcome is likely to be Discuss this with your vet – referral to a qualified animal behaviourist may be best for some pets.

Zylkène ® is a novel product proven to help manage stress in many common situations in dogs and cats. It can also help your pet adapt to change. Zylkène ® is natural, palatable and easy to give with food, and only needs to be given once daily.

Ask your vet if Zylkène ® can help your pet manage firework stress, short or long-term. It may also be used to aid behaviour therapy such as noise desensitization.

D.A.P® is a synthetic copy of the natural canine appeasing pheromone released by the nursing bitch.  D.A.P® is the only product scientifically proven to reduce the intensity of fear felt by a dog during firework exposure.

Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the natural feline facial pheromone used by cats to mark their environment as safe and secure. Feliway® is the only product scientifically proven to control the signs of feline stress and may help reduce fearful reactions to loud noises and prevent stress due to indoor confinement.

Feliway® is available as a diffuser and a spray.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5ab-HIqGjo&NR=1

For further information on how to prepare your pet for the firework season, go to www.petfireworkfear.co.uk and www.rspca.org/fireworks

This information is extracted from two pieces of literature I found at my vet’s surgery. Permission was granted to reproduce both leaflets in this ‘article’.

Another article you may find helpful is Firework Warnings




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