Generally, most pets struggle with fireworks. Animals have acute senses, way beyond ours and for them every flash, bang and wizz can be frightening. Cats and Dogs may exhibit the following behaviours:
• Cowering or hiding e.g. behind the sofa
• Trying to run away or escape, including digging up your carpet or sofa
• Soiling the house
• Restlessness, e.g. pacing and panting for dogs or over grooming in cats
• And dogs may well bark incessantly.
Talk to us:
If your pet has shown any such signs, they may need help coping and we can help. There are a number of products on the market, some natural, which can work well on cats and dogs. These need to be used with veterinary advice and it should be remembered that not all these preparations will be effective on all pets. Some preparations need to be given before the onset of their stress, in some cases building up two weeks before. This is just one aspect of helping your pet to cope and the following advice should also be considered …
Helping at Home:
In most cases, especially cats and dogs, your pets should be kept indoors. It is not always possible to predict when fireworks will be let off as some people start as soon as they become available in the shops but the following advice will help:
Build a Den
It’s important that your pet has their own safe place with which they have positive associations. This gives them somewhere to hide when they are uneasy or worried. A den is useful all year round, but is especially good for the firework season.
Familiarisation - prepare the den at least three weeks before, for your pet to get used to it.
Location - put the den or hiding place in a room where your pet usually likes to hide and where they feel comfortable. For example, if they like to hide behind the sofa, put it there, although make sure it is away from any windows.
Free Access - allow your pet to access the den freely at all times. This way they have chosen to go there and are not forced. Do not use it as somewhere to send them as a punishment.
Size - ensure the den is large enough for your pet to comfortably stand up, lie down, stretch out and turn around.
Line the den with used blankets, towels or old clothes to make it smell familiar.
Provide treats and toys in the den, to enable your pet to associate it with positive things.
Cover the den with a blanket where appropriate to muffle the sounds of the fireworks.
For cats, think 3D – cats do like to hide so the above is relevant but they also like to be high up so you may have to get creative in preparing their safe haven. If you have more than one cat, make sure you have a separate safe place for each cat so there is always somewhere to go.
Update their Identification
Your pet might run away if fireworks go off near them. Make sure your pets microchip details are up to date and if they wear a collar that the contact details are correct.
Walk your dog in the light
If possible, walk your dog when it is still light outside. This reduces the possibility of their being exposed to any fireworks being set off a few days early and your dog becoming uneasy. This can be tough in autumn and winter with the shorter days; you will need to plan accordingly.
On the night prepare before it gets dark ...
Walk your dog earlier in the day before the fireworks are likely to start. Once all of your pets are inside, make sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely closed. This will reduce the chances of your pets bolting/running off. Provide extra litter trays for cats if they are not used to being confined to the house.
During the fireworks
Always keep cats and dogs inside the house when fireworks are being let off. Do not take your dog to a fireworks display! Pull the curtains and switch on the TV or radio to dull the noise from the fireworks. Try not to leave your pets by themselves while fireworks are going off. Pets will be more relaxed when they have familiar faces around. Don’t force your pets to come to you, especially if they are in their hiding place or den. Don’t react to the fireworks yourself. Play with a toy and see if your pet wants to join in, but don’t force them. Ignore unusual behaviour, such as panting, shaking or whining, unless they come to you first for reassurance. Give them affection, but no more than usual. Pets often pick up on their owner’s worry and overcompensating could make things worse. Provide distractions, for example new toys or treats. DO NOT punish or get angry with your pet! This will only make them more uneasy.
Long term management
Once this high risk time has passed it’s a good time to consider how you can best manage your pet’s situation long term to make it less frightening next time. It’s worth being aware that if left unmanaged these behaviours can get worse over time, resulting in increasingly uncontrolled behaviour. It can also have the effect of worsening their response to other unexpected loud noises such as door slamming or thunder.
A sound desensitisation programme can help too. In the form of CDs, they work by gradually exposing your pet to a tiny amount of sound and then increasing it slowly over time. It can be a long process, but worth it in the end. There are many to choose from and should come with clear written and verbal instructions.
We are more than happy to offer you advice to help your pet cope, we’re just a phone call away, Tel: 01376 325511.
For further information visit:
Our website firework advice page
Dealing with Fireworks - helping them cope, with Zylkène click here. A supplement like Zylkène can help dogs and cats cope during festivities which incorporate firework displays. Zylkène contains a natural product, derived from casein,a protein in milk. It is a molecule well known to promote the laxation of new-borns after breastfeeding and is used to help pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations or before occasions such as a change in their normal environment.