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Firework fear

We all look forward to firework night; however it is easy to forget how stressful the event is for our pets. A recent study conducted by the University of Bristol showed that “almost half of owners in the structured interview reported that their dog showed at least one behavioural sign typical of fear when exposed to noises”. Some cases can become extreme and create a huge impact on owners’ lives.

Signs of fear:

  • Trembling and shaking

  • Clinging to owners

  • Barking excessively

  • Cowering and hiding

  • Trying to run away

  • Soiling the house

  • Pacing and panting

  • Refusing to eat

How to help with fearful behaviour

  1. Provide a den or hiding place for your pet whilst the fireworks are going off. Place somewhere they usually like to hide and line with familiar smelling towels or blankets. Cover the top with a blanket if possible. These should be prepared at least 3 weeks before the event so they have a chance to get used to it.

  2. Consider using pheromone diffusers or sprays  as close to the den as possible. Another alternative are supplements, which are an oral treatment to help with anxiety. Speak to one of our vets or nurses for more advice on any of these products or if you feel your pet needs something “stronger”. These will also need to be started well in advance of the event in order to be effective.

  3. Ignore fearful behaviour. Pets can pick up on their owner’s anxiety which can make the problem worse.

  4. Walk your dog early or well before the fireworks are due to start- this will also help to tire them out!

  5. Ensure all windows, doors and cat flaps remain closed to prevent pets escaping. It may be worth updating their identification, just in case they try to run away at any point.

  6. Make sure your cats have access to enough litter trays, especially if you’re keeping them indoors. Cats often get cystitis at times of stress.

  7. Don’t forget your small furries - rabbits, guinea pigs or other outdoor pets should be brought inside wherever possible, or at least cover their hutch to help reduce the noise and light.

  8. Provide distractions, such as new toys or treats. Plus draw your curtains and turn on the TV to mask the noise.

  9. Try not to leave your pets alone when the fireworks are going off.

  10. DO NOT punish your pet for any fearful behaviour! This will only make your pet more distressed and worse in the future.

For more information on any of the above, speak to one of our vets or nurses at your local Highcroft branch.

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