Preparing Pets for Fireworks

It’s that time of year again when we start to think about Halloween, Bonfire night, Diwali and Christmas. These celebrations bring fun and excitement for us but festive hazards to our pets. For those of you that have pets and in particular those who have pets that are fearful of fireworks these celebrations can be a stressful ordeal. There are many things you can do to help your pets cope with the fireworks, they need not suffer this year. NOW is the time to prepare yourself and your pets.

fireworks

Preparation for fearful events will help to minimise fear and stress. For dogs, make a special safe hideout, preferable somewhere that your dog has chosen itself. This can be a room or smaller den type feature. In most cases dogs are pretty good at finding a safe place within the home to hide, although some may need help. It is best to choose a room that is naturally quiet but located towards the centre of the house. The room should have minimal windows or good heavy curtains that block off light and bright flashes. It is important to prepare the “hideout” at least 2 weeks prior to firework night. This will allow your dog to become accustomed to it and will be relaxed with the new area. For cats keep them indoors if possible and allow them to find their own safe place, cats are good at that! Do not try to move them somewhere that you think appears more comfortable. For pets such as rabbits/guinea pigs that live outside ensure they have plenty of bedding, cover their hutch with a blanket or place their hutch into a shed or garage. It is important that they do not become too warm so bringing them into the house sporadically is not recommended as this can interfere with the way they regulate their body temperature.
Installing a pheromone diffuser such as Adaptal/Feliway or a Calming remedy such as PetRemedy for small furries, can help to relieve some stress for your pets. The diffuser must be left operating for 24 hours a day from 2 weeks prior to the firework events and until 2 weeks after.

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Other things you can do are to:

· Minimise the amount of outside noise from entering the hideout area/room. Block out windows to prevent the dog from seeing the flashes of fireworks.
· Make sure your dog has had a chance to empty it’s bladder before it gets dark!
· Food and water bowls must be close by or inside the hideout (don’t worry if your dog does not want to eat).
· Provide your dog with it’s favourite chew and toys
· Rhythmic music with a good beat is a great way of drowning out the bangs and squeals from fireworks. Keep the volume loud but at a comfortable level. If your dog objects to your taste in music or you rarely have music playing, opt for the TV instead!
· The hideout area must be accessible to your dog at all times and all doors to this area should be fixed open.
· Make sure doors and windows leading to the outdoors are secure and the dog is within the safe area before the fireworks begin. This will prevent your dog from escaping.

When the Fireworks are blazing!

o Encourage your dog to stay within the hideout, if that’s where they are happiest. Lead your dog there quietly and calmly if necessary
o Do not get cross with your dog for being scared
o Do not try to soothe or reassure your dog too much. You will increase the dogs anxiety and the dog will think there is something to be scared of it you appear worried
o Try to ignore your dogs’ fearful behaviour, showing mild comfort.
o Only praise your dog when it shows signs of calming down. Offer your dog the shelter of your arm if your dog prefers to come to you for safety. If your dog is calm, have a game with him to make the fearful time pass more quickly. Time flys when you are having fun! Try scatter feeding – throwing food on the ground for them to find.
o Ignore the fireworks yourself. Do not have a sneaky peek out of the window or comment on each loud noise.
o Try to remain happy and relaxed. Attend to normal household events, like it was a normal evening at home
o If you have two or more dogs that aren’t scared, have a game with them, the fearful dog may be encouraged to join in!
Prepare for the future and make next year a less stressful time

Get a Sounds Scary CD from us to begin desensitising your dog to the firework noises. This is the most effective way of reducing your dog’s fears. Get the CD now so you have it to begin re-training after the fireworks season. PLEASE CONTACT THE SURGERY TO DISCUSS YOUR CONCERNS AND GET DETAILED ADVICE ON THE USE OF SOUND THERAPY AND ITS LASTING RESULTS.