FireworkThe nights are getting darker and the air is getting colder. Autumn is upon us and soon it will be time for Bonfires and Fireworks. Most of us love fireworks, sparklers and bonfires and can’t wait for the displays, but that’s not the same for our pets.

Unfortunately most pets don’t enjoy firework night as much as we do. All animals should be kept inside on the 5th of November itself and the nights either side when fireworks are likely to be set off. Unexpected noises are especially scary for pets who don’t understand why they are happening.

Some pets develop a real phobia of fireworks and can become terrified of these sounds. These animals need veterinary help. If your pet is one of these animals they should start treatment immediately. Treatment is most effective if started at least two weeks and preferably four weeks before fireworks are expected. Once they have got through the next few weeks, you need to start training them not to be scared of these noises.

If you have a dog or cat who is scared of fireworks, please make an appointment at the surgery as soon as possible.

Scared pets tend to hide away. Most cats will find somewhere to hide and then disappear for the night, so many owners do not even realise that their cat is terrified of fireworks, because they do not see the cat.

Most dog owners do realise that their dogs are afraid. These dogs can behave in a variety of different ways

  • hiding away, especially under/behind furniture
  • cowering and looking to you for reassurance
  • whinging or whining
  • scratching at doors
  • not wanting to go outside in the dark
  • running away
  • salivation
  • shaking
  • having toileting accidents in the house
  • generalise anxiety

We can help your pet in many ways, both with medical treatment and showing you how to chang your behaviour towards your pet.

We find the following medications very useful for dogs with Firework Phobia.

DAP – this is a pheromone which bitches release when they nurse their pups. It makes even adult dogs feel settled and relaxed. It can be used as either a plug in diffuser or an impregnated collar, both of which are used continually for weeks before fireworks are expected.

Zyklene – derived from a milk protein, this compound reduces anxiety and helps both dogs and cats deal with stressful situations. It is taken daily around the time of the fireworks.

Xanax – a drug from the valium family, this is taken on the nights when the fireworks happen, to help your pet cope with the fireworks and forget how scary they were.

Cats can be helped by taking Zyklene and using Feliway, a pheremone diffuser for cats.

There are several ways you can help your dog at home, in addition to the medications.

  • Walk them early, so that they are not outside in the dark.
  • Feed them a stodgy, substantial meal an hour before fireworks are expected. This helps to make them sleepy.
  • Build them a den. Give them a place where they feel safe and secure.
  • Change your behaviour. Either distract your dog with a game or jolly them along. Reassuring them convinces them that there is something to be scared of.
  • Shut the curtains to cut down noise and flashes.
  • Play loud music to distract both of you from the fireworks.

Once the fireworks are over for a week or so, you should start to desensitise your pet. This means training them not to be scared of fireworks. Special CDS are available and we can advise you how best to use them.

If your pet has always tolerated or ignored fireworks and suddenly starts to behave unpredictably, then you should make an appointment with the surgery and have them examined. Changes in sensitivity to noise can be a sign of more serious disease.

More excellent information about firework phobia can be found at sound therapy for pets.