Your pet and Bonfire Night
10:45 01 November 2015
Andrew Wills, veterinary surgeon and owner at Toachim House Veterinary Surgery, answers a question on stress at this noisiest time of year for pets
Q: I have a cat and two dogs and they get quite distressed by the noise from fireworks in November. Any tips to help?
You must stay relaxed and don’t react to the noise, your pet will pick up if you are tense.
Make sure your pets always have somewhere to hide if they want to and have access to this place at all times. This could be under some furniture or in a cupboard. Wherever they want to hide, let them, even if it means moving items around.
Always walk dogs during the day and keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off. At nightfall ensure windows and doors are closed securely and close all curtains. Put on some music and the TV, also sounds like a fan, dishwasher or washing machine may help mask the noises. It is so important you ensure they can’t escape if they are startled. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in to help distract them, but don’t force them to play.
Don’t forget outdoor pets! Partly cover cages, aviaries and pens with blankets so that one area is well soundproofed. Make sure that your pet is still able to look out. Provide lots of extra bedding so your pet has something to burrow in. If possible put them into a shed to help them feel safer.
I have known some dedicated clients who drive out for the evening to remove their dog from the noise. Fireworks tend to spread over several nights but the weekends seem to be the noisiest. Pack some food and drink for you all and take a drive to somewhere peaceful and admire the fireworks from afar.
Diffusers disperse calming pheromones into the room or, in some cases, your vet may even prescribe medication. If these options are chosen they should be used in conjunction with behavioural therapy. The desensitisation process takes time and a lot of patience. With the commitment will come the reward of ensuring the next firework season will be a lot less stressful for you and your pet. w
Do seek help from the staff at your vets. They will be able to offer you so much more advice, and it’s free! We are always willing to share information to help you and your pet cope with stressful situations.