It’s very normal for pets to get distressed in different degrees when there are fireworks going off. The loud bangs and sudden flashes of light can affect many types of pets even the ones we wouldn’t necessarily expect to react. There is no iron clad way to ensure that your pet will not be affected but here is a compiled list of ways to try to make your pet less stressed when the situations arise.
Finding out when local displays are and pin pointing likely days and dates so that you can be better prepared will also help. You may also want to plan to be home with your pet at these times especially if they are particularly nervous.
Top 10 Tips for keeping your pets this firework season
1.Exercise– Try to tire your pet out earlier in the day in preparation. During the morning and in daylight hours there are less likely to be fireworks being set off. If the pet has been more active in the day day it may help them to rest in the evening. This could include taking your dogs for longer than usual walks or doing some training with them to exercise their mind also. Maybe you could play with your cat’s favourite toy or get a new one for them. Rabbits could have longer time out in their exercise area. All of the above maybe benefit from some extra cuddles and maybe some grooming to help them relax.
2. Stay indoors while fireworks are being lit- Don’t be tempted to take your nervous pet our for a walk whilst you know that fireworks may be set off. This can cause further stress and possible injury. If you have a cat flap, perhaps you could set it to ‘In Only’ slightly earlier in the day to ensure they are in when the fireworks occur. You could also close the doors in your rabbit hutch or shed for outdoor animals to limit the amount of space that they have to do damage to themselves.
3. Draw the curtains to shut out the flashing lights – Consider the ways that you may stop animals from seeing random flashes which could startle or cause discomfort. This can also stop you from reacting to the fireworks with sudden movements or your gazing intensely.
4. Turn up the TV or put on some calming music to mask the noise- If pets are calm or sleeping this can stop them from waking up or even noticing sometimes. Classic Fm even has special programs with calming music specifically to help pets at common times when fireworks displays are likely to be on.
5. Make a Den– An area where the pet can feel safe. For dogs, if you have a crate, you can cover it in a blanket for your pet to retreat to which can make them feel safer. A variety of housing for cats is available but they may be just as happy with a cardboard bow with a blanket in it. Extra cover could be provided for rabbits and smaller creatures if needed. click here for extra tips
6. Use Calming aids– There are a number of tablet forms available from pet shops and vets the majority without an appointment (In severe cases seek advice from your vet). These include Kalm aid or Zylkene but there are many other brands available. There are sprays and diffusers; one is called pet remedy suitable for all pets but for cats there is feliway and adaptil for dogs. There is also an adaptil collar for dogs. Your local pet shop should be able to help you find a product to suit your pet.
There may also be herbal remedies available which you will need to ask advice for and specify it is for pet use. If your pet is on medication or has any health problems please consult your vet before giving herbal or complimentary medications
7. Thunder shirt or anti stress wrap- This works on the principle that applying the right amount of pressure in certain areas can help the pet, usually a dog, relax. It is sometimes likened to giving the pet a hug. Thunder shirts are widely available and as the name suggests can be used in thunderstorms or many other stressful situations. It is also possible to use a length of material to wrap the pet. Some pet owners see great results with this method when applied correctly.
8. Chew toys or treats to use as a distraction- Toys and food may be used to distract your pet from fireworks but this generally works better when in combination with some of the other methods mentioned. Chewing is thought to be relaxing for pets so offering them a taste chew or toy may help calm them. All pets will have different preferences so try to have some options for them if possible.
9. Stay calm and do not react to the fireworks yourself- Fireworks may be very exciting for people or you may not even like them yourself. Try to ignore loud bangs and keep the tone of your voice even. Squealing with fear or excitement is likely to unnerve your pet further. Also try to keep your movements steady and try not to keep jumping up or bobbing to the window to have a look.
10. Desensitization– Find a good training aid like Sounds scary CD and gradually introducing these noises as a normal occurrence can help to lessen reactivity and help to prepare for next years firework season.
I sincerely hope that you can take something useful away from this list. A combination works best but not all methods will work for all pets. I think the best advice of all is to be prepared and plan ahead.