As autumn creeps up on us there’s one date that looms large in the mind of some pet owners…and firework season seems to last longer each year. It is estimated that 20% of the dog population have some level of sensitivity to noise, with up to 49% of dogs having firework fears.
Management of these firework fears can include behavioural management, pheromone therapy or products such as Thundershirts and/or medications. It’s important to realise that without behavioural management, both at the time of the event and leading up to it, medications and other products won’t be effective in the long term.
What to do leading up to firework season
- Work through LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT of noise sensitivities using CDs / downloads eg. SOUNDS SCARY (FREE DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE FROM DOGS TRUST WEBSITE)
- Make sure your dog is microchipped with the correct details in case they run off in panic. To make sure your details are correct you can call PetLog:
General Enquiries: 01296 336579
Lost & Found: 01296 737600
- Plug in pheremone diffusers eg. Adaptil (for dogs), Feliway (for cats). The plug-ins can take at least a week to have an effect so it is important to plug these in in plenty of time. The sprays and collars have a quicker onset of action.
- Make a den and get your pet used to it through interaction with toys and treats. It is best to locate the den away from windows and ideally where the animal normally feels most secure, e.g. behind a sofa, under stairs etc. It can be made out of anything. Using heavy blankets and duvets provides a source of comfort and also muffles against noise. Cats tend to change the location of where they feel most comfortable, so multiple dens may be required, preferably at a height e.g. on tops of cupboards.
- Get your dog used to wearing a thundershirt (this is a tight fitting garment worn like a coat. As a result of the tight fit, the pressure has a calming effect on the dog).
If you know your pet is severely affected by a fear of fireworks, make an appointment to see the vet as your pet may need medication to help them.
How to Manage Firework Fears on the night:
- Don’t leave your pet alone
- Walk the dog earlier in the evening (before dark)
- Close windows and catflaps, and draw the curtains
- Fit a thundershirt, use pheremone plug-ins and/ or sprays (and medication if prescribed)
- Turn the TV / radio on and the volume up (but not too loud!)
- Act normal!! Don’t reassure the animal and don’t punish signs of anxiety – ignore signs of unwanted behaviour if at all possible. Play with another pet/members of the family with the hope that the anxious pet will want to join in, but don’t push them to if they don’t want to.
- Try to relax as your pet will pick up on tension / anxiety from you.
How Powis and Partners can help with Firework Fears
- We stock pheremone therapies including all Adaptil and Feliway products. We also stock natural supplements such as calmex. This can be effective for dogs and cats that are mildly affected by fear of fireworks.
- We can prescribe medications for those dogs more severely affected by firework fears. These include drugs such as Sileo, which is a relatively new drug licensed for noise sensitivities in dogs, and benzodiazepines.
- We can offer detailed behavioural advice for management of the fear of fireworks, as well as other behavioural conditions.
Why you should see a vet if your dog has a fear of fireworks
We can advise on the best course of action for your pet. Some pets will respond well to natural supplements and/or behavioural modification. Alternatively others will need more intervention in the form of more involved behavioural modification and/or prescription medications. It is also important to make sure your pet is in good health before firework season. We can check that there is nothing that’s going to add to the problem, such as ear problems for example. We will also check that they are fit and healthy before giving any medications that may be required.
For further advice on management of noise related anxiety or any other behavioural issues please make an appointment to see our vet, Hannah.