With Autumn nights starting to draw in, we know what is around the corner. Bonfire night is often an enjoyable evening for the family but there are some of our friends that maybe don’t enjoy it as much as the rest. Guessed it yet? Our Pets!
The next few months can be an incredibly stressful time for our four-legged friends. With Bonfire Night and then not long after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s guaranteed there will be some flashing lights and loud bangs from fireworks. It’s important to be prepared otherwise there is a risk of suffering both short and long-term behavioural problems, phobias, and even serious injury.
Thankfully these days our knowledge of animal behaviour is growing and is better than ever. There are strategies that can be used and products available that are designed to help reduce anxiety in frightened pets. This allows them to cope better in times when they normally wouldn’t.
Some of the products that can help include natural remedies, pheromone sprays and difusers, and even some calming supplements. Pheromone-based products contain a synthetic copy of the feel-good chemicals that are released when a dog or cat is feeling happy and relaxed. Products such as Adaptil and Feliway are available at the Barn and we have some great special offers. They provide a calming effect to pets in need of some reassurance. Click on the images to find out more.
Signs of a distressed dog include crying, hiding, shaking, panting, and an inability to settle. Frightened felines may soil in the house, overgroom, or become aggressive. The best thing with cats is to keep them in over night and provide a litter tray if they usually go outside. Don't forget your rabbits and outdoor pets too! Making sure they are safe and secure is equally as important.
Pets that are known to have noise phobias, or that are lacking in confidence, ideally should be acclimatised before a big event such as Bonfire night. This can be done using desensitisation CDs/downloads. It is called sound therapy.
Sound Therapy ideally should begin a few months before a big event. It is used to desensitise your pet to different noises. It involves using recordings with the sounds of fireworks, thunder and other sounds they could become fearful of. To start you play them quietly, for short periods of time and then gradually start to increase the volume sound and duration in which the sound is played for. The therapy works best when enough time is given before a big event. CD's with these recordings can be bought or downloaded and are readily available on-line.
Allowing your pet to have a den or hiding place where they can feel safe if they become unsettled, stressed or anxious can really be a benefit. Crates work well as a blanket can be placed over them to help muffle noise. Ideally have your pets safe place set up a week or two before an event. Encourage your dog to go in by using their favourite toys and treats inside. On the night of the display turning you TV or radio up can also help distract your pet from the loud noises outside. We have a great example set up in our waiting room!
You can help by remaining calm, happy and cheerful as this sends out positive signals to your pet. Its best not to do anything abnormal, like pick them up if that is not what you would do normally. Feed and walk your dog before dusk, draw your curtains before its dark and make sure all windows and cat/dog flaps are shut. This will keep your pet’s safe inside and help block out the noise and scary flashes of lights from the fireworks.
Lastly – do your research. Find out when and where locally to you there will be firework displays as well as asking your neighbours if they are planning on their own display. Never lock your pet away in a room on their own, punish them for being scared or even attempt to get them to face their fears – they will just become more frightened.
Local Firework displays around the Oak Barn Vets area.
Ripley Bonfire - Saturday 26th October
Guildford Fireworks at Stoke Park - Saturday 2nd November
Cranleigh Bonfire - Saturday 2nd November
Chiddingfold Bonfire - Saturday 2nd November
Bramley Fireworks - Saturday 9th November
This is a list of the big displays, it is likely there will be more smaller displays or neighbours having a small showing. If you have a pet that suffers being prepared in advanced is a huge benefit. We are offering free Nurse clinics at the practice between now and January 2020, with the aim to help reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in pets and their owners this season.