Firework Phobias

Fireworks don’t just happen on November the 5th! Here are some top tips for how to help prepare your pets for firework noise

Dogs

  • Make sure your dog has a long walk before the fireworks begin and has been to the toilet. So feed early on in the day.
  • Prepare a safe place for your dog to hide in and fill it with fun things to eat and to play with. Make sure your dog has learned that this is a great place to hide by spending time beforehand feeding and playing with your dog inside and also allowing them to escape there to relax if the hustle and bustle of family life gets too much.
  • Draw the curtains to soften the noise and to block the flash of the lights and relax. Provide background sounds from a radio or television. It doesn’t necessarily have to be loud, as long as there is a constant distracting rhythm to the music which will prevent your dog from concentrating on the noises outside.
  • Check with your surrounding neighbours if they are planning a firework party and think about spending the evening with family members or friends that prefer a quieter life.
  • Do not punish your dog when he is scared since the change in your behaviour will only confirm that there is something to be afraid of and therefore make matters worse.
  • Equally do not fuss your dog or try to reassure when he appears scared since this can signal that his response is appropriate and he is therefore more likely to repeat the behaviour. Instead where possible it is best to ignore any fearful behaviour and appear jolly at these times to signal that there is nothing to fear.
  • If these measures don’t work please contact the practice and we will happily discuss what medical options (pheromones, anxiolytics) are available to help your dog cope at this challenging time.
  • And most importantly – plan for next year!! After fireworks night don’t be tempted to ignore the problem because it only happens for a few days each year, instead instigate a desensitisation programme. This way you can change your dogs perception of fireworks and teach him they aren’t a threat, and prevent all the stress happening again the next year. Our fully qualified behaviourist will be more than happy to help you in this matter so please contact the practice for more information.

Cats

  • Make sure your cat is indoors before the fireworks start and all routes out are securely closed. Find your litter trays and place them in a quiet place and show your cat where they are.
  • Fill your house with fun things for cats to do and places to hide. You can improvise with cardboard boxes, bits of string, feathers, ping-pong balls and hidden treats.
  • Close your curtains and put on the radio or the TV and turn up the volume.
  • If they want to curl up safely on your lap then enjoy this time together but if they want to hide under the bed then let them be.

And don’t forget your rabbits and guinea pigs!

  • Place outdoor hutches inside if you can such as the garage or utility area. If this is not possible think about how you might be able to sound proof them better by using covers and by adding more bedding and hiding places.
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