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Our pets’ senses are much more sensitive than ours, so loud bangs, high pitched sounds, unexpected flashes and the unfamiliar smells of fireworks can be scary for our four-pawed friends. Luckily, with the right care, you can keep your pet calm and help them cope.
You may ask whether your cat or dog seems to get really stressed by fireworks or loud bangs, if this is normal?
Lots of our feline friends and pooch pals will have mild fears in the same way as people do, but they will usually manage without it becoming a phobia.
It’s also worth remembering that just because cats aren’t running around, salivating, or digging holes through a door, that they’re not frightened. They have a tendency to take themselves away and hide so it’s not a problem to the owners.
If your pet is showing the following symptoms, they might be afraid of fireworks. Speak to your vet for more advice about how to help them.
For further advice please also see our previous blog – Noise phobia in pets.
Dogs – The main signs of a scared dog
|· Trembling and shaking||· Trying to run away|
|· Clinging to owners||· Soiling the house|
|· Excessive barking||· Pacing and panting|
|· Cowering and hiding behind furniture||
· Refusing to eat
Cats – Signs of a scared cat
Rabbits – Signs of a scared rabbit
So the most important thing we recommend is not to leave your preparation until the evening itself, we certainly don’t want you to be in a rush or panic, and nor do we want your pets to encounter any unnecessary stress!
All you have to do is spend a little time in the weeks running up to these events with your pet, getting them used to some slight changes in their routine. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make some small adjustments that do not take up too much of your time.
The RSPCA shared fears that this season could be the worst for animals for decades, as more people opt for DIY firework displays at home, rather than organised public events which are widely cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Perfect tips for your dogs and cats:
1/ Now is the time to start taking your dog for a walk earlier in the evening. By doing this a couple of weeks before- it eases them in gently to a slight change in their routine.
2/ For dogs – you can invest in Adaptil plug ins and spray products. Spray onto your pet’s blankets and toys in their den, leaving 15 minutes before you introduce your dog so that the alcohol smell disappears. Or they could wear an Adaptil collar that fits snugly around their neck. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of a pheromone reducing anxiety in puppies.
3/ For cats – you can use Feliway plug ins or sprays. The smell is a synthetic copy of a pheromone. This special scent (odourless to people and other animals) that Feliway utilizes is a replication of the pheromone that cats leave naturally when they are feeling comfortable in their environment.
4/ Give your dog a big starchy meal the night before the fireworks to help them relax.
5/ Build a safe, dark, comfortable den with their favourite toys, treats and blankets in a quiet place. Let your pet have access to this den at all times and, for dogs in particular, offer healthy treats and praise when your dog uses it, this will build a positive association with this space. Also leave the door to the room that your pet is spending the majority of the time open. This creates a space for your pet to come and go freely, so they don’t feel in any way trapped.
6/ On the night of the celebrations, shut all doors and windows to keep the noise to a minimum. This is subtle but very effective, and it also creates a buffer between the noise and your pet. Cover glass doors with blankets to muffle any sounds. Close curtains to stop block out flashes.
7/ Ensure dogs and cats are microchipped so that if they escape from the house, scared and confused, there is a better chance you will be reunited.
8/ Spend time helping your dog or cat relax with some music or TV. You’ll be surprised how you will all instantly feel more at ease- and the music will drown out any other noises. In recent years Classic FM and Bill Turnbull have presented Classic FM’s Pet Sounds – a show dedicated to keeping you and your pet relaxed during fireworks season.
For our feline friends only:
9/ You can bring your cat in a few hours earlier, staggering the times so it’s a bit earlier each time, so that he or she gets used to it.
10/ Shut the cat flap before the evening draws in. Also make sure they have a litter tray available, as well as enough food and water and a cosy blanket for them to snuggle into!
Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds..
Let’s not forget rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds can all be affected too, and you can really help your pet by ensuring you make them as calm and comfortable as possible. Ideally, bring the hutches inside. If this is not possible, partly cover hutches and other outside cages with blankets so that they have some soundproofing.
Pet calming playlists
Creating a soundtrack to disguise the whizzes and bangs of fireworks can help to keep your pet calm. From rock dogs to classical cats, there’s something for everyone to enjoy! The PDSA has helpfully put together the following playlists:
Please note that our advice is not a proper substitute for a consultation with a vet, and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your surgery for advice or treatment if you are worried about the health of your pet.