For a lot of pets and their owners bonfire night and the week around it is a stressful occasion. It is estimated that somewhere between 45-70% of cats and dogs are afraid of fireworks and of those, one in ten will require veterinary treatment as a result. However, there are a number of things that you can do to make your pet comfortable this bonfire night.
Signs of stress from Fireworks
There are a number of tell-tale signs that will indicate your pet is struggling to cope with loud noises and flashing lights. For cats and dogs you might notice your animal trembling or shaking, clinging on to owners, barking excessively, cowering or hiding behind furniture, pacing, refusing food, soiling the house or trying to run away.
Managing bonfire night stress
It is a common reaction for many owners to reassure their pets by stroking them and talking to them more than usual. Unfortunately this reinforces your pet’s fears and it is normally better to ignore fearful behavior, whilst still acknowledging that your pet will be more comfortable around someone they are familiar with.
Despite it being recommended that you don’t necessarily act differently around your pet, some slight changes to their routine are advisable. Most notably it’s important that you avoid taking your dog for a walk after dark when fireworks begin to light up the night sky. It’s also advisable to feed them and settle them earlier in the evening.
When it does go dark and you can hear fireworks you should close the curtains and if possible the windows to keep the noise out. You might want to turn the TV up louder than usual to disguise any noises and consider making a den out of your pet’s blankets to allow them to hide somewhere familiar should they be scared. For cats, if they’re hiding then bonfire night might be the time to leave them to it.
It’s also important you lock all the doors as they may try to escape if they get startled. For this reason a dog tag is essential.
Other advice from Knutsford Vets in Cheshire
There are a number of stress relievers that you can buy for your pets that can help them during the bonfire and firework time of year. Dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) is a synthetic version of the chemicals produced by a mother after birth and is useful for calming older dogs. It is best to put the diffuser in place near your dog’s favourite spot in the days leading up to Bonfire night.
You can also buy a CD to be used in conjunction with the DAP to desensitise your dog to bonfire noises, however this usually takes several weeks for improvements to be noticeable.
For cats, Feliway has a similar function, although there is not as much information as to whether desensitisation to loud noises works. There are also herbal remedies available for both dogs and cats which help ease their stress.
If your pet becomes severely stressed, then do approach your vet to discuss sedatives but beware that all drugs have potential side effects. Especially in older pets, blood testing to check kidney and liver function is preferable before starting medication, especially as fireworks can be a concern for several weeks. Should your pet be severely affected, do seek help from your vet and/or a behaviourist.
If you to know more information about the stress relief products available or for advice on other veterinary treatments please contact the surgery on 01565 337 999.