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firework, fear, pets, dogs, cats, brentknoll, vetsIt used to be the 5th of November that filled pet owners with dread, but in recent years we've seen the firework season appear in October and last until the end of November. Thus causing endless nights of fear and worry for many of Worcester's Pets.

These hints and tips won't work for every animal and they are not a miracle cure, however they may help you and your pet survive bonfire season with a little less anxiety.

1.)   Start Early... and by early we mean now!

There is no better time to begin desensitizing your pet to the sounds of fireworks than before they've started. Many behaviourists believe that by playing firework sounds at a low volume in house, can actually allow your pet to become comfortable with the sounds and eventually learn to ignore them completely. Firework sound CDs can be purchased or playlists found online.

2.)   Recognise the signs of fear - they include;

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Pacing and seeming unable to settle
  • Urinating and deficating indoors
  • Whining or excessive barking
  • Shaking

3.)   Praise positive behaviour and ignore the negative -

It may sound distressing but by comforting your pet when they are anxious and showing signs of fear, you are actually praising their undesired behaviour and reinforcing the action. Never tell them off for being scared, instead try to ignore their behaviour.

4.)   Provide a safe place - 

This may be their usual bed or a specially made area that they feel safe in. Many animal's natural instinct is to hide themselves away when they feel scared, so a quiet place under the dining table, a crate covered with a blanket or under your bed. Wherever they feel inclined to hide, let them.

5.)   Disguise the sound - 

Your neighbours may not approve but turning up the volume on the radio or TV can help some pets by disguising the sound of noisy fireworks (A prior warning would keep the neighbours from complaining.) Close any windows and doors to further mute the outside sounds.

6.) Walk dogs during the day - 

During firework season we'd recommend taking your dog for his or her walk earlier on, avoid evening walks when fireworks are more likely to be let off. Be careful when letting your dog off lead as some dogs may bolt if they are startled by a firework bang (many pets go missing during firework season due to running away when they are scared.)

7.) Pheromone diffusers - 

Love them or hate them, research studies and many pet owners rave about the benefits of natural pheromone sprays, collars and diffusers. They appear to work better for some animals than others, but the natural calming affect of diffusers such as Pet Remedy and Feliway may offer your pet some comfort during this stressful period.

8.) Pressure garments - 

Studies have shown that wrapping or swaddling animals in times of stress can actually help to reduce levels of anxiety. Companies like makers of the Thundershirt have created a line of comfortable, specially designed wraps to do just this.

If your pet has a severe fear of fireworks and you've tried but failed to help them with the techniques listed above, it may be time to speak to a Veterinary Surgeon. In some cases medication can be prescribed to ease the stress of bonfire night, however this is always subject to a full veterinary health check and all medication should only be prescribed by a Veterinary professional.

Firework fear.... surviving Bonfire night with Brentknoll Veterinary Centre, Worcester

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