Pets and Fireworks
Many pets are upset by the noise and flashes of fireworks. Loud, sudden bangs can cause fearful reactions such as cowering, trembling, flight from area, loss of toileting habits, destructive behaviour and excessive barking/noises.
What can you do?
- Dogs and cats should be kept indoors and, where possible, in a room without windows or with curtains drawn.
- A radio, music tape or TV will help overshadow the occasional noise outside, especially if the music has a steady, rhythmic beat.
- Anxiety in the animal can be reduced by altering feeding regimes. Feeding later in the evening will encourage the animal to eat during what are anxiety-creating periods.
- Licking objects such as Kongs filled with peanut butter will help reduce stress.
- Increasing the level of carbohydrate in the animal’s food and adding Vitamin B6 will also help; if your animal is prone to diarrhoea then don’t try this!
- Make earplugs out of moistened cotton wool. Squeeze out excess water and roll into a long thin cylinder and twist into ears so as to pack the ear canal. Care must be taken that the cylinder isn’t too thin and goes too deeply or so fat that it cannot be secured.The plug should be secure and firm but not so tight as to irritate your pet.
- Certain drugs can be useful but must be given early so they take effect before any noise occurs. Your vet should be able to advise.
- The use of Appeasing Pheromones has been shown to be very effective in firework phobias. Contact your vet or The Pet Behaviour Centre for more details.
If your pet has severe reactions to fireworks or other noises then a programme of desensitisation and counter-conditioning is required, once the firework season is over. If possible, record fireworks on tape so the sound can be used as part of the programme. Often pheromone and /or drug therapy is required as an adjunct to the behaviour modification and Jim will be happy to discuss the appropriate regime with your vet.
Jim is a pet behaviour counsellor and founder of The Pet Behaviour Centre, where he specialises in solving problem behaviours in companion animals. Jim graduated from Southampton University with a Master of Science degree in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling.
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