Coping with Fireworks – ON THE DAY

Firework events are going to happening over the next few weeks with little or no warning, so all you can do is prepare as best as you can.

One of the safest things you can do is walk you dog when it is still light outside. This reduces the possibility of them being exposed to any fireworks being set off and your dog becoming uneasy – we appreciate this can be tough with the shorter days, but try and plan accordingly.

Anxiety wraps or Thundershirts have been used with some great responses. The principle of these products is that they apply constant pressure to acupressure points on your animal to aid and lessen five major conditions: fear, anxiety, hyperactivity, insecurity and shyness. Check out here for more information. You can see the effect of Thundershirts in the follwoing video:

Below are pointers to follow on the night of an event.

  • Try not to leave your pets by themselves while fireworks are going off. Pets will be more relaxed when they have familiar faces around.
  • Ignore unusual behaviour! This is a biggy. We know it is hard, but ignore (do not fuss your pet) if they are panting, shaking or whining – unless they come to you first for reassurance, and then try and treat them as you would normally. Fussing them while they are worried has the effect of rewarding the fearful behaviour and confirms to the pet that there is something to be worried about. Pets often pick up on their owner’s worry and overcompensating could makes things worse.
  • Feed dogs a carbohydrate rich meal – such as pasta. This has the effect of making them quite sleepy so reducing the likelihood of a reaction.

pasta dog

  • Don’t force your pets to come to you, especially if they are in their hiding place/den.

cat hding

  • Always keep cats and dogs inside the house when fireworks are being let off. Do not take your dog to a fireworks display!
  • Once all your pets are inside, makes sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely closed. This will reduce the chances of your pets bolting/running off.
  • Play with a toy and see if your pet wants to join in, but don’t force them. Provide distractions – for example new toys or treats.

dog toy

  • Pull the curtains and switch on the TV or radio to dull the noise from the fireworks.
  • Do NOT punish or get angry with your pet! This will only make them more uneasy. They are purely reacting the only way they know how, so it is up to us to make the situation more manageable.
  • Provide extra litter trays for your cats if they are not used to being confined to the house.
  • Don’t react to the fireworks yourself!
  • Praise and lavish attention when your pet is being calm.

If your pet is really suffering and they are a danger to themselves or even you, then talk to your vet about using prescription only sedatives. There are anti-anxieties medications available  which can be given a couple hours before dusk and can relax your pet for the duration of an evening. They also have an amnesic quality so it will prevent the fear of the noises from getting worse. These drugs need to be trialed on your pet first though (some dogs can have a hyper-excitable response so we like to test with a tiny dose first during a time when no fireworks are going to go off), so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to allow for this.

We hope you find this advice useful. You also know where we are if you need to talk to us, so give your local surgery a call.

pets fireworks

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