The Fear of Fireworks for Your Pets at Halloween is coming up and although it’s a time for celebrations and fireworks you may want to take some precautions for your dog. Around half of dogs are thought to have a problem with loud noises and this year vets have seen an increase in phobias over the last 2 years. So, there is still a lot of work to do. Owners often do not look for finding ways for their pets to cope. The dog may develop sound sensitivity (phobia) to fireworks and other loud noises.
What to do when the fireworks are over?
The answer is not to wait until next year. Dogs can get better when put on a desensitisation & counter conditioning programme. Desensitisation is the process by which you provide controlled exposure to the noise at a level low enough not to evoke a fear response. The aim is little and often and to increase the volume slowly over time as long as it does not make them scared.
Advice for Dog Owners:
- Prepare a den – ideally this should be prepared four to eight weeks in advance, this way the dog is accustomed to using it. Allow access to the den at all times and reinforce the den as a happy place by providing toys, treats and playing games within it. A Kong is an ideal toy to help distract a dog in its den. Also snuffle mats are good to put inside the den (these are mats that you hide treats in), alternatively you can get pockets to hang on the side to put treats in.
- Ensure easy access to water from the den as an anxious dog may pant more.
- Dog should be taken out for a walk/to the toilet before it gets dark so they are not caught unaware by early fireworks. The exercise will also help to calm them before the noises start.
- Never push them
- Check their microchip is working & keep dogs inside. Ideally owners should stay home with their dog.
- Keep the curtains closed, have the TV or radio on to dilute the noise.
Here are signs of stress in dogs:
- Seeking owner support
- Barking Excessively
- Tail between legs
Advice for cat Owners:
- Prepare a hideaway or safe place. Remember, cats also like to be high up so providing both high and low options is useful. There are numerous cat hides on the market but even a cardboard box will do! Make sure there are always two or more entrances as cats like to have more entrances as cats like to have more than one escape route.
- Check their microchip is working and keep cat indoors.
- Provide adequate resources; food, water and litter trays.
- Close windows, doors & lock the cat flap to prevent escape. Microchip cat flaps are useful at this time of year.
- Shut curtains to help prevent the flashes. Also have the TV or radio on to dilute the noise.
- In a multi-cat household, a FELIWAY FRIENDS Diffuser can be used alongside FELIWAY CLASSIC to reduce conflicts & aggression between housemates.
Signs for Fears of Cats:
- Ears down & to the side
- Dilated Pupils
- Lowered body posture
- Trying to escape
- House Soiling