Firework season is about to start again.
A lot of animals become frightened by the loud bangs. This can manifest itself in many ways - some animals hide away and tremble, some become restless, dogs may bark. Other individuals become destructive, soil the house or go off their food.
For dog owners there is a really useful website to assess how affected your dog is by fireworks. If you visit http://www.adaptil.co.uk there is a fireworks questionnaire you can complete which will then email you a response tailored to your dogs’ problems and offering advice on ways to make your dog less stressed by fireworks. In some cases it may also recommend medications that you can get from MCVG. The website also has lots of general advice on managing firework fears in dogs.
More useful information can be found at http://www.fearoffireworks.com
Some useful tips in managing firework fears are outlined below:-
DOGS - when your dog is showing fearful behaviour due to fireworks it is important not to punish it. It is equally important not to fuss or reassure your dog as this rewards the anxious behaviour and he/she will then learn to continue behaving this way. Ignoring the noises yourself will show your dog that you are not bothered by them so they needn’t be either. Feeding your dog a starchy meal before the fireworks start can help to calm him/her eg. adding pasta to their dinner. Make sure your dog is in a safe secure environment so that it can’t bolt with fright. Make sure the curtains are pulled and play music, ideally with a beat to distract from the fireworks. If your dog prefers to hide away, let them, it is their way of dealing with the stress. Don’t block access to their bed or places they may wish to go to feel safe, as this will add to stress levels. Drugs and pheremone therapies can be useful - especially in really fearful animals - speak to one of our vets or nurses if you think this may be needed. Once the firework season has passed, plan ahead for next year and start a desensitisation program.
CATS - keep cats indoors, play music and pull the curtains, let them hide away if they prefer as this is their way of dealing with the stress. As for dogs, consider a desensitisation program for next year.
SMALL PETS - rabbits and other small pets can all get upset by fireworks too. Bring hutches indoors, into a cool room, garage or shed. Provide extra bedding so they can burrow into it to feel safe. If you can’t bring a hutch indoors, turn it to face a wall, and covering the hutch with cardboard or hay bales will muffle the sounds. For indoor small pets, draw the curtains and play music to mask the outside noise.
The long term solution to this problem is a desensitisation program which involves making a pet more tolerant of loud noises. This is usually a combination of training and CDs which play firework noises, and sometimes drugs or pheremone treatments. This takes time. If you have a pet that is fearful of loud bangs you should consider this for next year so that next season won’t be so unpleasant for him/her. CDs that play louds bangs and come with a training guide can be purchased from http://www.soundtherapy4pets.com or www.fearoffireworks.com
If you are still concerned about how well your pet will cope during the firework season, our vets and nurses would be happy to help. We have a range of products available to purchase over the counter to help with firework (and other) fears. In extreme cases sedative drugs are required. If so they would require you to make an appointment with one of our vets in order to for them to perform a health check and weigh your pet prior to dispensing the medication.