Are You Prepared For Firework Season? How To Reduce Your Dogs Anxieties
Helping Your Pets Navigate the Firework Season
As the calendar approaches that time of year when we celebrate bonfire nights and dazzling fireworks, it's crucial to consider the well-being of our furry companions. Fireworks can be a source of distress for many pets, especially dogs, and understanding their fear is the first step toward helping them through this challenging period.
Recognizing Signs of Distress
Before diving into the tips to ease your pet's anxiety, it's essential to be able to recognize the signs that your dog may be struggling with loud noises, such as fireworks. Look out for these common symptoms:
- Trembling and shaking
- Increased clinginess
- Excessive barking
- Cowering and hiding behind furniture
- Attempts to escape
- Soiling indoors
- Pacing and panting
- Refusal to eat
If you notice your pet exhibiting these behaviors, it's time to take action and provide the support they need.
Understanding Firework Fears and Noise Phobias
Many dogs experience anxiety during the firework season, with firework fears affecting up to 80% of pets. If not addressed, these fears can escalate into more severe noise phobias, where even the slightest noise triggers extreme and excessive reactions. In recent years, the predictability of fireworks has become increasingly challenging, as it's no longer confined to a single night; it can stretch across several weekends of loud bangs and explosions.
To help minimize the anxiety that our beloved dogs endure during the firework season, here are some valuable tips to calm and reassure your pet.
Creating a Safe Haven for Your Dog
One of the most effective ways to help your dog during fireworks is to create a secure haven for them. Ideally, this should be prepared at least a month in advance, allowing your pet to grow comfortable with it before the fireworks commence. This den should shield your dog from both the sudden noise and flashing lights of fireworks.
If your dog is accustomed to sleeping in a crate, consider covering it with a blanket or towel to enhance the feeling of security. A den can be improvised from various items, such as a sturdy cardboard box on its side, a table, or chairs. To further enhance the comfort of this space, you can use an ADAPTIL Diffuser near the den and spray the inside with ADAPTIL Spray. ADAPTIL is a synthetic copy of the natural canine appeasing pheromone designed to support dogs in stressful situations.
If your dog discovers its own hideaway, such as under a bed or in a cupboard, ensure it's accessible, comfortable, and safe. Resist the urge to coax them out, as it can cause more distress. Make sure there's a water bowl accessible at all times, either in the den or nearby, as some stressed dogs may pant excessively.
Alternative Solutions for Dogs
In cases where creating a den is not feasible, an ADAPTIL Diffuser can provide pheromone support during fireworks. This diffuser becomes fully functional in 24 hours and should be plugged in about two weeks before the event to allow the pheromones to support your dog during the lead-up to the fireworks. Each ADAPTIL refill lasts up to four weeks, with the diffuser head requiring replacement every six months. For continuous support, an ADAPTIL Collar can be used alongside the diffuser, while the ADAPTIL Spray can be applied to your dog's bedding for shorter periods of support.
Keeping Your Dog Entertained
To distract your pet and make their safe haven more comforting, consider placing a healthy treat or a favorite toy inside. Kong chew toys are particularly ideal, as they can be filled with food to hold your dog's attention. You can also include your dog's favorite toy to make the space feel secure and familiar.
Masking Noise and Light
To minimize the impact of the fireworks, draw curtains and shut blinds to muffle external noise and reduce the intensity of flashing lights. Playing soothing music or having the TV on can further mask the noise of the fireworks. Lock doors and windows to prevent your dog from escaping in a panic.
Behaving normally during fireworks is reassuring for your dog. Try to avoid leaving your dog alone during the fireworks, as it may injure itself due to fear. It's crucial not to punish your dog for displaying fearful behavior during fireworks, as it cannot control its anxiety.
- Ensure your dog is microchipped, as if it bolts during fireworks, it's likely hiding nearby.
- Walk your dog early in the evening to avoid the fireworks.
- If your pet seems to have difficulty recovering from the firework festivities, consider consulting your vet about a behavioral therapy program.
Helping Cats Afraid of Fireworks
When it comes to our feline friends, it's essential to approach their fear of fireworks with compassion. Here are some gentle steps to take:
- Create cozy hiding spots within your home, like beneath furniture or in a quiet corner, where your cat can find solace.
- Resist the urge to coax your cat out from their hiding place. Let them emerge on their terms when they feel safe and ready.
- Keep your beloved cat indoors during fireworks displays to shield them from stress and prevent any accidental escapes.
- For added peace of mind, consider microchipping your cats. This precaution can be a lifesaver if they do manage to slip away and become lost or disoriented.
Assisting Small Animals During Fireworks
Our smaller companions deserve our care and comfort during fireworks as well. Here are a few tips on how you can lend a caring hand :
- Partially cover outdoor cages and pens with soft blankets to both muffle the sounds and offer a private hideaway. Leave a small opening for your little friends to peek out and observe.
- Ensure they have comfy bedding to burrow into, providing a sense of security and warmth.
- If possible, consider gradually transitioning them indoors during fireworks. Planning ahead for this change ensures their safety and comfort.
Keeping Horses Safe During Fireworks
Horses can also be affected by the booms and flashes of fireworks. Here's how horse owners can take care of their majestic companions:
- Stay informed about firework displays in your area. This way, you can prepare in advance for any potential stress your horse might experience.
- If feasible, communicate with event organizers and kindly request that fireworks be set off in a direction away from your horses, minimizing their anxiety.
- Seek valuable advice and tips on safeguarding your horse during the firework season from trusted sources like the British Horse Society (BHS). Their expertise can be a guiding light in ensuring your horse's safety and well-being.
For more help keeping your pets happy this bonfire night, 365 Vets also have a great range of behavioural products designed to help reduce stress and anxiety in your beloved companions. Head over to our Cat Behavioural Products or Dog Behavioural Products to see our full selection of products and treatments.