As the nights draw in, some owners are bracing themselves for the fear their pets will feel as fireworks are set off.
Almost a quarter of dog owners (23%) say their pets are afraid of fireworks. Taking action now can help prevent their suffering.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “It’s horrible to see your pet in a distressed state and anyone who has had a pet that suffers from fireworks phobia will know how challenging it can be.
“What are just loud bangs to us can be terrifying to pets because they have such sensitive hearing. They can shake with fear, they might go to the toilet in the house, destroy furniture, and could even injure themselves if they panic or run away.”
Nina advises any owners with firework-phobic pets to take action as early as possible. Here are her top tips:
Buy a sound therapy CD or stream them online. Gradually introduce your pet to these types of noises by playing them quietly in another room. Reward your pet when they remain calm, but if they become anxious then stop immediately and try again later with a lower volume. When they show no reaction, very gradually increase the volume and duration over a period of several weeks.
Build a hideaway den with blankets and cushions for your pet now so they can get used to it. This should be somewhere they feel safe. Ideal places for dogs include behind the sofa or under a table, whereas cats often feel safest when high up. A safely secured cat bed on a shelf or wardrobe may be their preferred option. Don’t force them to use this, but do reward them with praise or a healthy treat when they do, so they build a positive association.
Pheromone diffusers release scents which are undetectable to humans, but can have a calming, reassuring effect on our pets. They are available for dogs and cats, and should be used for several weeks leading up to fireworks season.
Bringing rabbits or other small animals indoors is a great idea on fireworks night, but it’s best to bring them in a few days before, so they can get used to their new environment before the noise begins.
For severe phobias, we recommend speaking to your vet or veterinary nurse, who will be able to discuss various options including referral to an accredited behaviourist.
Nina continued: “We can’t stop fireworks from happening, but with some advanced preparation and patience we can make a big difference to the amount of anxiety and stress our pets’ experience.”
To get your free PDSA guide for helping your pet cope with fireworks go to www.pdsa.org.uk/fireworks
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity improving pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.