Coping With Fireworks

Fireworks can make celebrations exciting for us, but they’re not always quite as much fun for our pets. From a recent PDSA study 61% of UK owners reported that their pets are scared of fireworks. Have you thought about how much distress your pet may suffer?

Whilst this figure is an improvement of 12% since 2010 and is a credit to the work and intervention of vets, behaviourists and owners, it’s still nearly two thirds of all our pets that are scared at these times.

As the improvements show, there are things that we can do to help keep them calmer and safer. It’s up to us and you as pet owners to help them cope and make sure their fireworks nights are as easy as they can be.

Generally, most pet struggle. Animals have acute senses: for them every flash and bang can be unexpected and alarming. Think about how your pet reacts to fireworks, or if you haven’t had them when there have been fireworks going on, how they respond to loud noises. Do they show any of the following behaviours?

  • Cowering or hiding behind the sofa
  • Trying to run away or escape, or digging up the carpet
  • Soiling in the house
  • Restlessness – pacing or panting for dogs or over grooming for cats
  • Dogs – barking incessantly

If they show any of these signs, your pet might need help coping.

Book a FREE NURSE CONSULTATION on 028 9081 7109
What can I do to help?

Ideally, it’s best to prepare some time in advance. Speak to one of our vets at least 6-12 weeks in advance. Long term behavioural therapy really needs to be looked at some months in advance. However, we can start to help you with some short term help, and then look at long term management in the future.

Short Term Management

Talk to one of our vets or nurses – it’s a good idea to discuss this to see what additional therapies can be instigated to help ease the stress – there are many to choose from.

There are many things you can do at home which our nurses and vets can give you full advice on, these include –

  • Building a den – it is 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 around, but especially good for the firework season. Our nurses can help you design something to suit you.
  • For dogs it is important to address smells, treats, toys and sound prevention – many tips are available at our nurse consults.
  • For cats – think 3D – cats feel more comfortable up high – we may need to help you with how and where to positon their den. Have you more than one cat? It is important to remember every single cat needs two dedicated hiding places.
  • Update their identification – Is your pet microchipped? Prior to firework season make sure they are microchipped and the details are up to date so if they do run away scared we can help reunite them with you when they are found. At Hollygate, we can help you update your records or even check what information is linked to your pet’s microchip. Contact us as soon as possible to organise getting your pet microchipped as this can take a couple of weeks to get the chip registered.
  • Walk your dog in the light if possible. This reduces the possibility of them being exposed to any fireworks and making them uneasy. This can be tough in autumn and winter with the shorter days so may take some planning accordingly.
On the night – what can I do?
  • Preparation before it gets dark is important. Walk your dog earlier in the day before the fireworks are likely to start
  • Once all your pets are inside, make sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely closed. This will reduce the chances of them running off.
  • Provide extra litter trays for cats if they are not used to being confined inside the house – remember each cat needs their own.
  • Always keep cats and dogs in the house when fireworks are being let off. Do not take your dog to a fireworks display – they will most likely be under immense stress.
  • Pull the curtains and switch on the TV or radio to dull the noise from outside. There are times however, especially on new year’s eve, where there are often fireworks displays on the TV – remember this and choose your channel appropriately!!
  • Don’t leave them alone if at all possible. Pets are more relaxed when they have familiar forces 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, limit the noise and cheer that may come from the celebrations if any.
  • 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 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. Call in and see the range of toys available, again our team can help you choose something suitable.
  • DO NOT punish or get angry with your pet, this will only make them more uneasy.
Does my pet need some extra help despite all of this?

There are many options available from plug in diffusers to sprays and medication. All of which we see great results from and your pet may be much happier with some help. We don’t recommend sedating you pet as this can be counterproductive, whereby they don’t have the ability to display their distress, and actually makes them more stressed or worse on the next occasion. There are however, medications available that are more focussed on providing relaxation rather than sedation, and much kinder on your pet. Some medications however, do have to be started a few days beforehand to get maximum benefit and you should think about this in the weeks before the event.

Pet Remedy

For more information why not watch this video below –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISYd_ASh3jw

Clinic Opening Times

028 9081 7109
Clinic Opening

Monday: Friday 8.30am – 7.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 12.00pm
Sunday: – Closed

Consultations By Appointment Only

Mornings
Monday – Friday: 9.00am – 11.00am

Evenings
Monday – Friday: 4.00pm – 7.00pm

Saturday: 9.00am – 12.00pm
Sunday: – Closed

Out-of-Hours Veterinary Care
Your local emergency hotline
02890651729

At Hollygate we have many options available and feel free to book a FREE nurse appointment to discuss this or just call in and see what is on offer.