Over the course of the year and not just in November we are seeing an increased number of animals requiring sedation to calm them due to fireworks.
Pets will destroy homes and belongings, become aggressive or submissive and many will run away from their loving homes due to the fear of fireworks.
Dogs and cats have better hearing than humans and have the ability to hear bangs and whistles before you even know they are there.
Here are a few ideas to help you and your pets overcome the ‘fun’ of fireworks:
Keep animals inside houses well before dark and before the fireworks begin.
Close blinds and curtains, block off cat flaps, shut all windows and doors. This will keep the noise to a minimum and prevent animals escaping.
Playing music or having the television on may create a distraction: playing a familiar sound can reduce anxiety.
Ensure your pet has a traceable ID. Collars and tags can be easily read, but it is worth considering having a microchip inserted. This way your pet can be traced back to you and unlike a collar the chip cannot be removed.
Do not take dogs to firework displays. Although some dogs will not bark or show fear directly, be aware that panting and salivating may also indicate stress.
Do not tie dogs up outside; leave them unattended in the car or in a garden while fireworks are being let off. This may increase fear and anxiety.
Do not walk dogs while fireworks are being let off. He may become scared and run away.
Do not shout at your dog for barking or showing fear, this will increase stress.
Things that you can do to prepare for the fireworks:
Create a den for your pet where they feel safe and can retreat to when scared. This may be under a bed with familiar smells. Water should be available at all times.
Your pet will naturally find somewhere where he feels safe. This may be in a corner or behind the sofa. If so do not try to coax him out.
Try to stay with your pet during the evening when fireworks are being set off. This will reassure your pet and reduce stress.
Reward your pet when he is calm, but try not to fuss him when he is stressed (ignoring unwanted actions means they will occur less).
If your pet becomes destructive when left alone during fireworks, try not to get angry or shout.
Commence the Firework Desensitising Programme.
If the above have all been worked through and your dog is still fearful, please speak to your veterinary surgeon.
If you are an owner of a dog with a noise phobia we can offer you a programme for treating fear of fireworks that does not involve the use of oral drugs.
The programme is not a ‘quick fix’ for your pet’s noise phobia. You will need to be committed to helping your pet learn to cope with fireworks by gradually desensitising him to noises associated with fireworks, along side pheromone therapy.
Ideally, the programme needs to be started a minimum of two months before the high-risk period e.g. November or New Year.
The programme requires:
1. A 20 - 30 minute appointment with a veterinary nurse to assess the problems which you and your pet have been experiencing in the past, and whether your pet would be suitable for the training programme.
2. Information and training about the use of D.A.P. diffusers.
3. Firework noise desensitisation programme and sounds CD.
If possible, bring hutches and aviaries inside to a quiet room.
Supply pets with extra bedding to burrow down into.
Cover any outside aviaries or rabbit hutches with a thick blanket if it cannot be moved.
Make sure there is enough ventilation.
Should you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail, please consult your veterinary surgeon or nurse to discuss the new firework programmes and therapies we offer for dogs and cats.