Although dogs are well known for often being scared of fireworks, it isn’t just dogs that are affected. Cats, rabbits, and other small animals are all susceptible to the fear of fireworks. After all it’s dark and suddenly out of nowhere there’s a huge flash of light and a bang…
So how can you tell if your pet is scared of fireworks?
Dog may show much more obvious signs than other animals, such as becoming panicked and erratic. They may try to run away from the situation which can often do more harm than good. Simple signs from any animal are when they try to hide, become more subdued or show a change in their normal habits and behaviour.
What can you do to help?
There’s a number of things you can do to help your pet with their fear of fireworks, it’s important to implement most of these well before you anticipate fireworks!
- A safe place to hide – You can build a den for any animal to hide in. Make it in a quiet space ideally where the sound of the fireworks is minimal. Use blankets and bedding that your pet is used to. If you were thinking of replacing your pets bedding or cocoon, now is the time to do it, meaning that by the time bonfire night comes along, it is a familiar place to them. We have a fabulous range of beds on the website:
- Sound desensitisation – before the fireworks start it’s great to introduce the sound at a gradually increasing volume, this helps the noise to become normal and less of a shock to your pet when the fireworks actually start. Take a look at the Dogs Trust website for more information as they have a whole range of sound clips to help: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/dog-advice/understanding-your-dog/sound-therapy-for-pets
- Diffuser – Pheromone and calming diffusers are great as long as they are installed before you anticipate any issues (such as bonfire night). These release pheromones throughout the home, telling your dog or cat that they are safe.
- Compression shirts/wraps – There are now a number of commercially available dog compression shirts available on the market. These work on the basis of calming using gentle consistent pressure, as in humans. These are great and easy to apply. An alternative method is to make your own compression wrap or ‘half wrap’. This method works on the same principle but uses a simple bandage to create the same effect, for ease a Vetrap Cohesive Bandage can be used allowing freedom of movement and easy application. https://dukeandcopetsupplies.com/products/3m-vetrap%E2%84%A2-equine-cohesive-bandage Follow the diagram to fit the bandage.
- Calmer – In addition to a diffuser, closer to the time a calming product can also be used for cats and dogs. These often require you to give them a couple of hours before the anticipated stressful event, to have maximum effect. They are based on natural products that help to relax your pet: https://dukeandcopetsupplies.com/search?type=product&q=calmer
- Comfort your pet – most importantly continue as normal and comfort your pet if they are still stressed. Music to mask the noise of the fireworks, or having the television on is a great way to drown out the noise. Playing with toys and games if they are willing is also a good way to distract them, however if they want to just curl up in their den then leave them to it. Just keep a close eye on them!
If you are still having problems the next step is to visit your vet. They can prescribe medication to help your pet, however this is rarely required.
Ellie Phipps BVSc MRCVS