It’s estimated that 45% of cats and dogs find the unpredictable noise and flashes created by fireworks frightening and stressful, potentially putting their safety at risk. Here are some tips you can use at home to support your pets during this time.
Make sure all dogs and cats are kept inside after dark; plan dog walks accordingly and lock cat flaps.
• Check that fences and gates remain secure after periods of bad weather and high winds. Now is a good time to check that microchip details, collars and tags are up to date, should the worst happen and your pet is spooked into running away.
• Keep curtains drawn to hide bright flashes and turn up the TV or play music to muffle loud bangs.
• Get creative with blankets and bedding to make a safe den. Our dogs like to hide away in small dark places to help make themselves feel more secure. Place in their favourite toys and something of yours; the familiar smells will help them feel a little more at ease. Cats may be more comfortable in a high up spot.
• Try to act normally. If they want to pace around a little and find new hiding spots, let them. If you are relaxed it will help them feel relaxed too. If they’re up for a treat and a game, engage them with some play and ‘brain games’ as a distraction.
There are lots of products on the market designed to help calm and relieve anxiety – call and speak to your vet or veterinary nurse about plug-in pheromone diffusers or sprays and natural calming capsules or chews. These can be started in the weeks leading up to the fireworks season and are suitable to continue right through until New Year.
Sometimes these precautions aren’t enough for the most nervous and noise-sensitive animals and in these cases it may be appropriate to seek a veterinary consultation for prescription medications. These are best used alongside a structured noise-desensitisation programme.
Lastly, please spare a thought for our wildlife this fireworks season. If you’re building bonfires, don’t leave them constructed for long and check them before lighting to make sure no little friends are hibernating inside. Dispose responsibly of any plastic litter created by fireworks. Sky or ‘Chinese’ lanterns aren’t safe for animals or for the environment.
The nursing team,
Severn Edge Vets, Much Wenlock