Help pets and animals by taking action to prevent fear and distress from fireworks. We have compiled our top ten tips but we would always welcome your ideas.
1) Adaptil collars/diffusers for dogs and Feliway for cats, are synthetic analogues of natural pheromones that can make your pet feel more relaxed when in fearful situations. They are widely available – we use them in our kennel and cattery wards while your pets are staying with us. IE. close exposure so the collar is better for dogs. But they need to be started in advance of the fearful situation. Adaptil tablets and Zylkene capsules contain natural calming agents which may be helpful to reduce stress, but again need to be started before November 5th! Zylkene capsules are available for Cats, Dogs and even Horses.
Some pets are so scared, they require medication to help them cope. These are only to be used under close supervision and of course we would need to check them over before they are prescribed.
2) Build a den – a safe place to hide. Build it in advance – a table with some thick blankets or an old duvet is ideal – You need both sound deadening and darkness. Make it familiar – feed your pet inside it, put their bed in it, place some of their favourite toys inside – make it a nice place to retreat to, not somewhere they get sent to. If they have decided that the understairs space is their safe space, do not drag them out of it!
3) We would recommend that cats are kept in well before dark for a week before and a week after the 5th November. Fireworks tend to be let off over an extended period nowadays, not just bonfire night. Remember to lock any cat flaps, to let in but not out. Also you will need to provide a litter tray if they normally use outside facilities. So stock up on cat litter.
4) Fireworks tend only to be released after dark, so make sure that your dog is walked well before night draws in. A panicked dog is much more likely to try to escape from a fearful situation, whether they are on a lead or not. Feed a high carb meal if they are able to tolerate it. Mashed potatoes/pasta etc – makes them feel full and sleepy.
5) Microchip your animals! – A lost animal with a microchip is much more likely to be returned to you. For those that are micro chipped – are the details up to date?
6) Draw the curtains to black out the room chosen for the evening before sundown, to stop flashing colours stimulating your pet. Bring plenty to keep both you and your pet occupied for the evening.
7) Stay with them – remain a calm influence. If they ask for reassurance, give them calm support. But don’t over fuss. This can be difficult but if they rely on you for comfort during scary events, they will be less able to cope when you are not at home and make matters worse in the long term.
8) Stay calm yourself – Most pets can sense when their owners are worried, and this increases their stress. Let them hide in their den, and leave them there until the fireworks have finished and they have come out. Your can give them lots of fuss when they come out.
9) Prepare for unusual behaviour – Fear can make your pet behave out of character, including refusing to go outside after dark.
10) Prevention is better than cure – Plan ahead for next year. There are plenty of free resources to help, including this website www.dogsandfireworks.com Which includes behaviour advice from Karen Wild a member of the APBC www.apbc.org.uk/apbc
Also there are lots of websites with great tips to help your pet such as