Fireworks

Many pets become anxious and frightened when fireworks are going off. Some become extremely distressed. Unlike humans, they do not understand why there are loud bangs and flashes outside.

If you own a puppy or kitten, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of your pet growing up scared of fireworks. There are also measures that you can take to help adult pets cope, if they are already scared of fireworks.

Prevention

If puppies and kittens are brought up in an environment where they are not exposed to normal household sounds, they are more likely to be scared of noises such as fireworks as adults. During their first three or four months (the socialisation period) puppies and kittens should be exposed to a range of everyday sounds such as washing machine, doorbell, vacuum cleaner as well as unexpected noises. A good way of letting them hear a range of noises is to use a socialisation CD which would include the sound of fireworks. (we do have copies of "Sounds for Life" to borrow if interested). When they then hear real fireworks, they are less likely to be afraid.

Preparation

Many pets will try to hide when they hear fireworks. This helps them to cope with their fear. You can help your dog by creating a "den" for them to hide in. This could be inside a wardrobe or cupboard. Pad it out with pillows to help soundproof it. Let your dog have access to their den in the weeks leading up to firework season. Offer lots of praise and treats when they use it to build a positive association. Keep your cat confined to the house for the week leading up to firework night. Provide them with a litter tray as they will be prevented from using the garden. Pheromone plug-ins nearby can also help and these are readily available at our practices. Make sure that your pet is micro chipped so that if the worst does happen and they escape, they can be traced back to you as quickly as possible.

On the day of the event

Check that your cat is definitely inside the house and that all escape routes are blocked. Keep the television or music on to drown out the noise from outside. Leave your pet well alone, if they are hiding. Draw the curtains or blinds. Although it is very tempting, do not comfort your pets and they will pick up on your anxiety and their fear will be rewarded and encouraged. Never punish your pet. Never restrain your cat if they are scared - they prefer to be able to control how they cope

Medication can be useful in some cases but should only be used under veterinary supervision. Bear in mind that any medicine should be given so that they take effect BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in.