Fireworks

 

Fireworks

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Firework season can be a frightening time for pets with most pets being frightened of fireworks. The stress and fear that animals feel is manifested in behaviours such as toileting inappropriately indoors, cowering and hiding, being clingy, barking, shaking, pacing, panting, scratching and not eating. Due to the phobia of noise your pet tries to protect itself from harm with these natural responses. If not addressed mild fears can progress to severe noise phobias with severe reactions, and of course it is distressing to see your pet frightened and stressed during the fireworks period around Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali.

Noise and firework fear are behavioural problems which require a multi-factorial approach to tackle. Options to help reduce your pets fear around the time of fireworks include, and can be used in combination;

Household Advice

·         Provide a den or covered area for your pet to seek safety in, cats often prefer to be high up. If your pet is hiding leave them where they are most comfortable but stay in to keep an eye on them as in their fear they can hurt themselves.

·         Keep cats inside after dusk to reduce their fear and also protect them from the danger of active fireworks. Ensure windows, doors and cat-flaps are secure. Provide extra litters trays (one more than the number of cats in the house) and ensure they are kept clean daily to reduce inappropriate toileting.

·         Don’t walk dogs in the evenings before and during the firework season to reduce their risk of being frightened by them.

·         Provide distractions such as new toys and chews, draw the curtains and put on the TV or music to mask outside noises.

·         Ignore fearful behaviours such as hiding, crying, shaking etc, otherwise you will provide positive reinforcement of their fear.

·         Don’t punish your pet or shout at them, this will only increase their fear.

·         Try to be calm yourself as pets will sense your anxiety.

Feliway and Adaptil diffusers, spray and collars

These are synthetic copies of calming pheromones for cats and dogs that help to reassure and comfort animals in their own home to help them cope with stressful events such as fireworks. It also helps to calm cats that are being kept in due to fireworks and reduce an inter-cat tension or scratching in the house. The diffusers should be plugged in 2 weeks before and left on throughout the season, typically lasting a month. Collars are available for dogs and sprays for both dogs and cats to use on furniture or carriers etc to help calm and reduce scratching.

Pet Remedy

Pet Remedy is a clinically proven blend of essential oils that help calm and relax pets (and owners!) It increases the production of a chemical produced by the brain. This sends calming messages to the body. Pet Remedy starts working straight away, it doesnt need to be plugged in for a period of time before its needed and even works if your pet is already showing signs of anxiety. It is available in plug in diffusers which will last 2 months and sprays.

Zylkene

·         Zylkene is a natural protein product derived from milk that helps to calm cats and dogs, supporting them to cope with stressful situations. It can be used in all pets as it has demonstrated no side effects, is hypoallergenic, contains no lactose and does not interact with prescription medications. It is an easy to give powder for once daily dosing in food or liquid, started a few days before and continued throughout the firework season.

Feliway, Adaptil and Zylkene are all products that are also useful for other behavioural situations such as kennelling, travel, moving house, new arrivals and visitors etc and can be used alongside behavioural training for inappropriate behaviours or aggression.

Medication

Prescription medications are the last port-of-call for stressed animals as any medications is not without risk of side effects and they mask the problem rather than trying to treat or reduce it. Any medication can only be prescribed after a consultation with a vet to discuss what is the most appropriate option, a health check to ensure as much as possible the safety and efficacy of the medication, and to discuss how else you can help you pet(s).

Tackling Noise Phobia

If you pet has an extreme reaction to even low levels of noise and panic very quickly this is likely an excessive response called a noise phobia. In this instance prescription medication may be required to help your pet cope with the fireworks season, but the other measures above should also be employed and not neglected.

The best approach is to tackle a noise phobia is through a gradual process of desensitisation outside of the fireworks season when these loud sounds are unlikely to happen. One approach is using a “Sounds Scary” CD along with an Adaptil diffuser. This is scientifically proven to be an effective combination for treating fear of fireworks in dogs.

Of course once the firework season is upon us there is no time for this, but it is something to consider for after the New Year fireworks season. For more information contact us.

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