It is nearing firework season, which means it is time to begin preparing anxious pets for those terrifying noises and vibrations. We are here to help and offer advice on how to make your pet feel more comfortable and we have a number of suggestions for any training, supplements, pheromone treatments and prescription sedatives available, if we feel they are necessary.
Reactive behaviours to fireworks can involve hiding away under the bed or behind the sofa, digging up carpets, barking persistently and soiling the house. It can escalate over time, resulting in irrational and uncontrolled behaviour. It can also promote their general reactions to sudden loud noises such as doors slamming shut or storms and thunder.
There are some short term solutions to help your pet cope on the run up to Bonfire Night and New Years Eve. You could prepare a hiding place for your pet, a little den for them to feel safe inside. Set it up in a room they are familiar with and enjoy spending their time in. Make sure the den is away from windows and accessible at all times. You could cover the den with a blanket to muffle sounds and fill it with toys and treats so that your pet associates it with a positive place to be. If you have multiple pets, it might be worth setting up multiple dens to accommodate them.
Long term management would involve ‘sound desensitisation’. The training is actually similar to programmes that police dogs and horses go through! This involves using a CD which plays similar noises to fireworks. This can slowly lessen your pet’s anxiety over the noises.
There are also other products on the market to help with firework anxiety; for example a thunder
T-shirt which helps your pet feel secure.
On the night, try to ignore any unusual behaviour such as panting, shaking and whining, if you think it is related to the fireworks but try not to leave them alone. Ensure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely shut as this will reduce the risk of your pet escaping. They may try to runaway when they are frightened. Shut your curtains and switch on the TV to dull out the noise of the fireworks. Give your pet distractions, for instance a new toy or treat. Please refrain from punishing your pet as this will make them feel very uneasy.