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    • Ask The Expert
    • 22 Oct, 2018

    Protecting your pet during firework season

    November is set to be a dazzling month, with both Fireworks night and Diwali taking place. For us humans, these are exciting celebrations with sparkling displays of impressive fireworks lasting for hours.

    For many animals however, loud bangs and flashing lights can be terrifying, and may leave them shaking in fear – or worse, running away from home in a blind panic. Here’s how to help your cat or dog cope:

    • Keep your pet indoors when fireworks are being let off. If pets get scared, they can run off in a direction they wouldn’t usually go, which could lead to them getting lost or even running into the path of an oncoming car.
    • Make sure your pet is microchipped and has a good fitting collar and tag so if the worse does happen and they escape, they can be reunited with you more easily.
    • Create a cosy area where they can feel safe. Choose a room farthest away from the noise and keep the curtains closed but the lights on, so they aren’t startled by bright flashes from outside. Keep the TV or radio on in the background as this can help to muffle the noise of the fireworks, and give them a distraction such as a toy or some treats.
    • Feed your pet their evening meal before the fireworks start, as a large meal will help them to feel sated and sleepy.
    • Do not make a fuss of your pet if they are behaving strangely. A stressed or frightened animal could scratch or bite, even if they wouldn’t normally behave this way. Approaching them whilst they are hiding could also increase their stress levels, so it’s best to give them space and remain calm yourself so they don’t detect your own anxiety.
    • Consider using a pheromone diffuser, spray or collar. Use Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats, which release calming pheromones to help soothe your pet. You can buy these from Mayhew’s Community Vet Clinic reception.
    • Try playing the noises of fireworks in the background in the run up to firework season. Start off playing it quietly and gradually increase the volume over the next few weeks. This can help to desensitise pets to these sounds and help them feel more relaxed.

    “Loud unexpected bangs can be perceived as a real threat and trigger the flight response in your dog or cat. Running away is a survival instinct but by planning ahead you can ensure your animal feels they have a safe haven to retreat to in times of fear. Using these steps has really helped my dog, Barley, during fireworks and stormy weather. He’s gone from frantically running around the house panting and trying to scratch his way outside, to lying down in his den with minimal shaking, which stops after a short while. I never close the door on him, but do push it to, so the noise levels are reduced.” Alisa Ford, Mayhew’s Deputy Head of Animal Welfare Community

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