With everything that 2020 has thrown at us, there may well be an increase in the number of small firework parties due to social distancing. To help prepare your pets, our vets have pulled together all of their top tips to help get through Bonfire night and New Years without worry.
Why do pets get scared?
Our pets can be born sensitive to noise or they may have a breed propensity to fear noise. A fear of noise can develop after a traumatic experience coupled with a loud noise; common experiences of this nature are fireworks and thunderstorms. The seemingly random flashes of light also add a strong visual stimulus to what the dog is also listening to outside. Remember your pets’ auditory sense is much stronger than your own! So loud noises to you will seem even louder for them; this could panic the animal and trigger a fearful response.
Symptoms of fear:
- Hiding or cowering
- Trying to escape (digging at carpets, clawing at doors, jumping through open windows)
- Urinating and/ or defecating
- Pacing or shaking
- Being ‘clingy’ towards the owner
- Refusing to go outside
- Refusing to eat
- Expressing anal glands in extreme fear
- Panting or drooling
How to help your pet have a more positive experience:
- Walk your dog earlier in the day and ‘toilet’ them before it gets dark
- Keep cats indoors and provide litter trays
- Keep windows covered so flashes cannot be seen
- Mask external noise by keeping the TV or radio on
- Provide a covered den but make sure it’s not adjacent to an outside wall
- Place comfortable bedding and blankets there to help muffle sounds
- Use an Adaptil or Feliway diffuser plugged in near your pet’s resting/sleeping areas. These dispense calming chemicals in to the room and could help your animal.
- Give food activity toys and chews, especially novel ones
- Ignore fearful behaviour, such a panting, shaking and whining. (Dogs may pick up on their owner’s anxiety which could make the problem worse.)
- Try not to leave your pets alone while fireworks are going off, pets will be more relaxed when they have a familiar person with them during this time.
- Don’t punish your pet! This will only make your pet more distressed.
- If you have small animals that live outside then make sure you cover part of their cages, pens or aviary with a blanket or towel so that one part is well sound-proofed. Make sure they can still see out if they choose to.
- Ensure your pets have lots of bedding to burrow in if they feel panicked.
For the more fearful dog you may want to consider a ‘Thundershirt’. The shirt is a snug-fitting garment that applies constant pressure around the dog’s body, similar to the effect of swaddling a baby. This constant pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help to create a calmer mood state in dogs.
If you would like to speak to a vet about anything discussed in the article above, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01327 350239.