Fireworks & Pets

Supporting your pet through the fireworks season

With fireworks season seeming to last from the end of October right through to New Year and beyond, it is important to provide your pet with supportive adjustments that don’t cost the earth and once put into place, can be used each year to manage anxieties.

Follow these helpful tips to support your pet and consider attending a ‘Nervous Nellies’ clinic in one of our branches, to learn how you can help to desensitise your pet to scary sounds ready for next year’s festivities.

Be prepared!

  • Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date. This is really important as it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your pet if they become spooked and accidently get lost amid the bangs and crashes.
  • Speak to your vet or nurse about pheromone treatments and herbal anti-anxiety supplements. They need to be started at least a week before fireworks as they need time to build up. They should be continued right through the season until about two weeks after all fireworks have finished. These treatments/supplements can help your pet to feel less anxious but will not sedate
  • Make sure your pet stays inside at night during firework season. Check the dates and times of local displays so you know when to keep your pet in. If you have a dog, make sure you take them out before it gets dark, in plenty of time before the fireworks start. If you have a cat, provide a litter tray indoors.
  • Block off pet flaps to stop them from getting outside and to help muffle the sound of bangs and zips.
  • You can help to block out the noise of fireworks by switching on the TV or radio, if your pet is already used to the sound, but make sure it’s not too loud or you may hurt your pet’s ears.
  • Close the curtains or black out the windows as it will help to block out the sight of bright flashes, which may scare your pet.

During the event

  • Let your pet pace around freely inside your home or hide if they want to. Provide a safe place (see our page on ‘how to create a pet den’), so your pet can choose to hide in it or stay by your side. Don’t try to coax your pet/s out of hiding places unless they are in immediate danger – they are trying to find a safe place and shouldn’t be disturbed.
  • Although it’s difficult when it’s obvious your pet is stressed, try to act calm and casual and do things in the house as normal. Calm behaviour reassures your pet that there is nothing to be afraid of, a bit like when your pet first heard a noisy hoover or washing machine. Keep your pet busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep their mind off the noises, if they aren’t hiding.
  • Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events, especially during the week around Bonfire Night. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pet if they have toileted in the house after being left on their own. Shouting at an already frightened pet will only make them more stressed.

After it’s all over

  • When the fireworks have finished, continue to allow your pet access to their ‘safe place’ and continue any anti-anxiety supplements for at least two weeks following the end of fireworks season.
  • Prepare for next season by visiting dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets or speak to your vet or nurse for helpful advice on how to desensitise your pet to scary sounds. Desensitisation is the only way to prevent your pet reacting to fireworks in the future and it is simple to do. Desensitisation can take time to complete, so won’t be achievable for this year’s firework season, but it is possible to achieve for next year, if started before next August.

Don’t forget….bunnies and other small pets need to be considered during firework season too!

 

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