Once again the firework season is upon us and no doubt it will merge into Christmas. Our pets being scared of fireworks is a common and natural fear. Remember most of our animals have much more acute hearing than us and therefore will often hear the first firework in the far off distance before we became aware of them. In the past we often used sedatives at this time of year but these have risks and cannot be used every night for weeks. For dogs with mild phobias we do use a newer milder sedative but as a whole we are trying to get owners and their animals prepared in advance so that we can use more natural products and fewer drugs.
This year, get ahead of the game and choose some ‘non-drug’ options to keep your animals happy. These are readily available from us without having to see the vet and during October and November we are offering 10% off all ‘behaviour modifiers’. These are a lot safer and can be used for prolonged periods of time but often need to be started two to four weeks before hand. This is often necessary these days as fireworks are not generally a one night occurance.
Practical things you can do at firework time:
- Provide a hiding place: – When animals are scared they want to hide and providing a small, safe, dark place can help. Examples would be understairs cupboards, under beds, somewhere they have hidden before or a collapsible crate covered in blankets. If using a diffuser place it near the den.
- Try and reduce the noise of the fireworks as much as possible:- Close the curtains, shut doors and windows, put on a TV and/or a radio (Have a movie night but possibly not with POPcorn).
- Make sure you have thought about their toilet needs :- In the weeks leading up to the fireworks gradually take dogs out earlier before it gets dark so that their routine walk is before the fireworks start. Possibly if they are very nervous have a plan as to where you can take them out that will be quiet and away from the noisy areas.
- In the case of cats – a litter tray. It is a good idea to set this up before the fireworks so that they realise it is there and can be used before they get stressed. Make sure that it is kept very clean during the period of stress as they will want to use it more when they are stressed. If it is not spotless they will often choose an inappropriate place instead – such as your bed!
- Relax! :- Although it can be very hard, try to be happy and normal yourself. Try to ignore their fearful behaviour.
If you give them lots of attention when they’re scared you’re telling them that there is something to be scared of.
- When it’s all over and they re-emerge from their hidey-hole and are happy, then give them lots of fuss for having been so brave.
- Think about noise desensitisation in the future. Noise phobias tend to get worse as they get older and the earlier you do something like desensitisation the better results you will see.