The festive season is almost here! Unfortunately for many of our dogs and cats, this means three months of fireworks. With their acute hearing, loud bangs are potentially very frightening for our pets and can lead to them being extremely distressed.
Recognising signs of distress
Signs of distress associated with fear in dogs include shaking, excessive panting, hiding, drooling, barking and indoor toileting. The signs in cats are slightly subtler and may include decreased interaction, changes in appetite, scratching, spraying and excessive grooming.
Ideally, animals with noise phobias should undergo a dedicated desensitisation programme, although this is not easy in practice.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things to be done to minimise the fallout from fireworks:
Keep pets indoors after dark. If they are outside, ensure it is a secure area. We have seen dogs that have chewed right through timber doors due to fear of fireworks!
Ensure all pets are microchipped, so that if they do go missing, they can easily be reunited with you. If you are unsure if your pet is chipped, or if their chip is working, just pop them into the clinic for a free check.
Make a comfortable ‘safe’ space for your pet with blankets and beds. Cats like to be up high, particularly when they are stressed.
Turn on the TV or play some music to muffle the sound of fireworks and distract your pet.
Other distractions include toys and playing with your pet.
Never punish a pet showing signs of fear, as this can make them more distressed.
For those pets with significant phobias, medical options are available. These range from pheromonal products (Feliway and Adaptil) to sedative and anti-anxiety drugs. Come in for a consultation if you feel your pet could benefit from any of these.