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Monday, 10 October 2011

Firework season is here again

Did you know that 80% of pets suffer some degree of noise / firework phobia, and ... November is nearly here again. Firework season can be such a scary time for our pets. In this week’s blog we have put together a few hints that will hopefully reduce the stress levels in your household.

Before the firework season starts, provide your dog with a ‘doggy play area', where they can feel safe. This should be calm, so chose one of the quietest rooms in your home. Train your dog to associate the play area with positive experiences, e.g. by playing games with them. Use a variety of toys and swap them regularly, putting them away when not in use so that your dog doesn’t become bored with them.

Some dogs and cats also appreciate being able to hide when frightened, so provide a ‘pet den’ to help them to cope. For example, this could be a wardrobe or a cupboard, packed with old duvets and blankets to make it more comfortable and to help sound-proof the area. It is important that your pet has access to its ‘den’ at all times, even when you’re not at home.

In the run up to fireworks night walk your dog when it is still light outside. This reduces the possibility of fireworks being let off and your dog becoming worried.

Make sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely closed during fireworks' night. This will reduce the chances of your pets escaping. Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape – Broad Lane Vets is offering microchips at only £10 throughout October and November 2011.

Provide extra litter trays for cats. Litter trays will be used more as your cat is confined to the house.

Provide distractions, in the form of new toys and chews, during periods when fireworks are occurring. Draw curtains and put the TV on to mask the noise of fireworks being let off. Ignore the firework noises yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in, but don’t force them to play.

If your pet shows any signs of fear, try to ignore their behaviour. Please do not punish your pet! This will only make your pet more distressed, and worse in the long run.

Try not to leave your pets alone when fireworks are going off. Do not try to tempt your cat out of their hiding place.
In the long term, your dog needs to learn to be less afraid of loud noises. With proper treatment this is possible so that the next firework season will be less stressful for you and your dog. We recommend Sounds Scary! - An easy to follow CD therapy pack for dogs which includes CDs, an information booklet and an easy to follow guide. The amount of training needed will vary from dog to dog so you should start training with the Sounds Scary! CD well in advance of the firework season. Planning ahead can help your dog cope with the firework season. Talk to us now about pheromone diffusers. These disperse calming chemicals into the room and may be a good option for your dog. In some cases we need to prescribe medication. If either of these options is used, we will talk to you about using the in conjunction with behavioural therapy.
And finally don’t forget small animals…
If your pets live outside, partly cover cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed. Make sure that your pet is still able to look out. Provide lots of extra bedding so your pet has something to burrow in.

Do come and talk to us at Broad Lane Vets as there is lots you can do to help your pet.