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FIREWORK FEARS

It’s that time of year again that many pet owners dread – Firework season.

Dogs and cats can spend weeks terrified by the sight or sound of fireworks.

The sounds seem to get louder every year, and many pets, and their owners, experience distress.

However,there are many things pet owners can do to help their pets manage their fear of fireworks – without resorting to sedatives.

With forward planning, many owners have reported the successful use of pheromones, which are available in many forms – from collars to household diffusers.

Pheromone therapy, although very effective when used correctly, does need to be started at least a week prior to the stressful event in order to see best results.

Enquire with your veterinary surgery who will be able to advise you fully as to what will best suit your pet.

Of course, not everyone will find the above useful or practical, whether due to short timing or a particularly nervous pet, but there are still things that can be done actually on the night to help calm your pet.

With the following tips, hopefully firework night should be as stress-free as possible for both you and your pet:

  • In the evening set yourself and your pet up in a blacked out room to avoid additional problems any flashing lights may cause. Give your pet their favourite toys in order to keep them distracted.
  • Play some music with a strong regular beat quietly in the background in order to distract from the loud sounds, rather than drown it out.
  • Ignore the firework noises yourself completely, and instead focus on engaging your pet in a game.
  • Try not become irritated with your pet, and don’t punish them, as this only confirms there is something to be worried about.
  • Equally do not fuss or reassure nervous behaviour as this only reward the behaviour you are trying to discourage. It is much better to ignore it and try to distract your pet instead.

Even with the above, many pets will still find firework season stressful, so do ensure your pet is kept secure and safe and cannot escape in panic at a sudden noise.

Desensitisation therapy can be used to produce marked improvements in fear of fireworks, and works by exposing your pet to low volumes of the sound they find distressing and gradually increasing to volume, so that they gradually become accustomed to the sound and no longer demonstrate fear.

Often this is carried out under instruction from a qualified behaviourist, or your veterinary surgeon.