Bonfire night and fireworks season can be a frightening time for pets. Use the following tips to help manage their anxiety:
A week or so before fireworks season begins:
- Create a den for your dog – a comfy hiding place such as a crate covered with blankets – provide treats or food in there 2-3 times daily to build positive associations with the space.
- Use a dog pheromone or cat pheromone diffuser to release calming messages into the surrounding environment.
- If your pet is likely to need prescription medication to help them cope, contact your vet and arrange a consultation well in advance.
- Try a calming nutritional supplement, any of which may be bought without a prescription.
- Ensure all pets are micro-chipped in case they escape and go missing if they get spooked.
On the big day:
- Keep pets indoors: –
- Walk dogs early, in daylight to avoid the bangs.
- Lock cat-flaps and provide plenty of litter trays.
- Encourage dogs to use their dens – provide plenty of bedding to dig or hide in.
- Ensure cats have access to plenty of hiding places.
- If your cat uses a favourite hiding place, leave them there undisturbed.
- Keep curtains closed.
- Turn on the television or music loud enough to muffle noises from outside.
- Provide plenty of toys, treats and distractions.
- Do not punish anxious behaviour.
- Stay with your pet if possible: try to stay calm and act normal. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet but try not to fuss too much.
Outside of firework season:
- Try to desensitise your pet to firework noise using a recommended sound therapy CD such as Sounds Scary or Clix Noises and Sounds CD and following all the instructions carefully. The training involves playing sound recordings of firework noise at very low volumes and gradually increasing the volume as your pet becomes more tolerant – it can take many weeks to complete the training and it is therefore best left until after firework season is over.
- If the noise phobia is severe, your pet may benefit from referral to a professional behaviour counsellor – your vet will be able to advise you of a suitably qualified person.