Fireworks and your Pets
Bonfire night is great fun, but for animals it is a frightening and stressful experience.
Imagine how it feels to see flashes of light and hear explosions without understanding what's happening - pretty scary right? That's how pets can feel when confronted with fireworks.
There are things you can do to keep 5th November (and the days surrounding) as calm as possible for your pet. We've created a guide on how to minimise noise and maximise comfort for dogs, cats and small animals.
Preparation - Dogs and Cats
Part of the reason dogs and cats are frightened by fireworks is due to the noise being so unfamiliar. To combat this, you can slowly introduce firework noise at home in the months leading up to bonfire night so that your pet is more accustomed to the different sounds on the day. This process is called desensitization, and whilst it may not lead to total fearlessness towards fireworks, it will certainly help to reduce stress and anxiety during a display.
Start by playing a YouTube video of a firework display at a low volume. It needs to be loud enough for your pet to notice and react to the noise, but not so loud that they present a fear response (shaking, cowering, hid-ing). Once your pet no longer shows a response to the noise at a low vol-ume, slightly increase it the next day. Continue to do so until your pet is unaffected by firework noise at a realistic volume.
Create a Den
Frightened animals will often seek out a covered space to hide. Your dog or cat may already have a favourite place where they go to feel comfortable, but if they don't, you can easily create one for them. If your dog likes to relax in a crate, line this with extra blankets and add some new toys to make it as inviting as possible. It is also a good idea to place blankets over the top (leaving an opening for ventilation) to help block out noise and light. Placing an old jumper inside can also calm your dog by providing a familiar scent.
For cats, a cardboard box placed on its side makes an excellent den. Again, fill with blankets, toys and a few treats to entice your cat an place blankets over the top to protect them from the nois Irlf
Remember: Do not force your pet into the den, but praise them when they do go in by themselves. Do not let children pester pets whilst they are in their den.
Some animals may urinate out of fear during a firework display. Make sure you're prepared by scattering newspaper around the house and provide extra litter trays for cats. If your pet does have an accident, calmly clean it up and do not punish them.
Calming Sprays and Herbal Remedies
There are sprays that promote calm and well-being in dogs and cats, which can be purchased from most pet stores and veterinary practices.
Feliway for cats mimics the feel-good pheromone cats emit when they feel safe. Similarly, Adaptil for dogs imitates the pheromone produced by bitches to calm their puppies. Both products have proven very successful in providing relief during periods of stress, and are Thunder shirts also help your dog feel secure within the home environment, working on pressure points within the body, creating a sensation similar to swaddling a baby.
Dogs On the Night
- Take your dog for a walk before it starts to get dark to avoid being outside when the fireworks start going off.
- When the fireworks begin, shut all doors and windows to muffle the noise as much as possible.
- If your dog does show signs of anxiety, leave them to it and don't fuss over them, as this will only make them think tha there is something to be frightened of.
- If your dog can perform commands like 'paw', engage them in some training as a distraction.
- If you have an outdoor cat, call them indoors before it starts to get dark.
- Make sure doors and windows are closed to avoid your cat escaping.
- Try and engage your cat in play as a distraction.
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