Sadly we are getting nearer to that time of year that many a pet owner fears….firework night! Although it has been announced that arranged bonfire nights aren't going ahead this year, that is not to say, there will be no fireworks!
It can be a very stressful time for our pets as they can be very anxious of all the noises that suddenly appear and they don’t understand that they won’ get hurt. These days however it is that it’s not just a ‘one night’ occurrence, they start a few weeks before and can continue on for a few weeks after making it impossible for us to know when we might get caught out.
It is only natural that our pets may show a mild reaction to the noises however sometimes the reaction can be severe and can put our pet at risk of injury. Dogs will often pant excessively, shake, hide away, bark and can mess the house at worst some dogs may destruct their immediate environment almost trying to dig themselves free. Cats will often hide, become withdrawn, urinate in the house and over groom. Also don't forget our pets outside who need to have a protected quiet space to hide in.
Fortunately there are lots of things we can do to help. If we act now we can put some plans into place to hopefully reduce the stress and anxiety that is felt by our pets (and us!) There are also de-sensitising programmes that we can put into place after the firework season that will help us and benefit our pets for the next season. Please contact us at the Barn for guidance if you feel this type of programme may be beneficial for you.
So what can we do …….
Before the night
The first thing to set up is a den, often animals will feel safer if they have a hiding place to go to this can already be an area that our pets like to spend time in ie crate/bed/wardrobe. Ensure that the area has plenty of bedding and padding and it is an area that the animal sees as inviting. Pop a blanket over the top if you can as this can muffle the external noises. If you don’t have this sort of set up already then now is the time to think about where you might be able to make one. Moving furniture and clearing out cupboards can sometimes give us areas that can be adapted in this way but please remember that your pet needs to feel this is a place of safety and not somewhere that is seen as a punishment. So ideally set this up a good few weeks before we anticipate them starting.
There are a number of calming products/supplements on the market which too can help, we are happy to discuss these with you if you contact us. Sadly for some these products are just not enough and so diazepam can be prescribed, however we would need to give your pet a health check before we could prescribe these. We often recommend a ‘dummy run’ before the night if using diazepam to check that the dose prescribed has the desired effect.
On the night
Ensure all windows and doors are closed and you have the TV on or music playing. Distract your pets by offering them toys, treats or playtime. Walk all dogs early so as not to get caught out by the early evening fireworks. Keep all cats inside overnight and consider bringing in rabbits/guinea pigs that live outside. Ensure all resources are provided for your pet if you have changed their normal circumstances ie a normally outdoor cat will require a litter tray. Most importantly don’t punish your pet for displaying unwanted behaviour as this can make them more distressed. Consider a natural supplement or pheromone support product to make them feel calmer. Use diazepam if required.
After the night
Consider a de sensitizing programme once firework season is over.
We have some great information packs at the practice so if you would like some help now is the time to ask! Either email us or pop in and collect one. As always we are always here to help and fingers/paws crossed with these top tips we can all enjoy this years fireworks.