Windy weather and falling leaves signals the start of autumn, bonfire night is just around the corner and While many people are out enjoying the festivities, this can often be a really tricky time for pets and their owners. So it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you can support your pet through all the noise and bright lights
The good news is that you can take action to help your dog or cat live with the commotion, until everything is back to normal. In order to do so, you need to act now, well before the fireworks begin!
When it comes to helping your pet cope with the fireworks season – preparation is vital. The more time you have, the more options are available to you, so the best advice is to contact your veterinary practice well in advance to discuss your concerns, so they can offer you solutions tailored exactly to your dog or cat’s needs.
There are also many things you can do around the house to help in the run up to the fireworks season:
Provide a place in the house where your pet can hide and feel safe – maybe their crate or a table covered with a blanket. It may help if you give your pet food or treats in there so they become relaxed in their ‘safe area’. Then, on the night
itself, take your dog outside before all the commotion begins and perhaps keep your cat inside with a litter tray if they don’t object to this. Once your pet is inside, close the curtains and switch the TV or radio on (relatively loudly) to block out some of the flashes and bangs.
Once the fireworks begin, cats will probably hide themselves away and want to be left alone. Provide a litter tray, food and water somewhere nearby and leave them to it. Dogs may prefer to stay with their owner for reassurance. Make sure your dog has free access to the ‘safe area’ but don’t force them to go in there. Most importantly, try to act as normally as possible, even if your pet gets very worked up, as they will be influenced by your behaviour. It may be difficult not to provide reassurance when your pet is upset but remember that by doing so you are simply rewarding their fearful behaviour and reinforcing the message that there is something to fear. Do reward your pet with food or attention when they are calm and relaxed.
Some other options your vet may suggest you try with your pet include:
- A desensitisation CD of firework sounds. The principle of this is that you introduce firework noises to your pet gradually, initially at a very low volume for short periods. Your companion can become accustomed to the noises when
- relaxed and the volume of the sounds can then be gradually increased. You’ll need to follow the instructions carefully over several weeks for this technique to be effective.
- Pheromone therapy for pets. Special household diffusers and sprays release scents which are undetectable to humans but mimic natural calming pheromones for dogs and cats.
- Nutritional support – such as the Royal Canin® Calm diet – with two key nutrients (a milk peptide and an amino acid) to help maintain emotional balance.
- Prescription medications. These are generally only used as a last resort and are unlikely to be effective if given once your pet is already worked up. They are not suitable for all pets but they can be helpful in a few cases if used under strict veterinary guidance.
Above all, it is important to remember – only your pet’s vet will be able to give you the best advice on how to manage the fireworks season with your companion. They will have experience of using the methods and will know the ones most likely to work for your dog or cat – so do contact your practice as soon as possible for their advice.
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