We are coming up to ‘firework season’ and this can mean fear and misery for animals.
However, there are measures we can take to reduce the anxiety, both in the short-term and longer term.
It might be worth having a word with neighbours to tell them your pet gets frightened and persuade them not to let off fireworks. However, unless you live well away from other houses, your animal is likely to be exposed to noise.
Don’t leave them alone, and don’t let them out of the house. Stay calm and detached, offering reassurance, but not excessive attention as this may reinforce anxiety. Try to play with your pet to distract them.
Close the curtains and turn up the volume of your TV or music. Provide a safe ‘den’, even if it is just space behind the sofa. Don’t lock them in one room, give them the run of the house so they can find their own safe place.
Medication is available from your vet. This includes natural remedies, such as Adaptil pheromone diffusers and collars, and Zylkene milk protein capsules. These should be started at least two weeks before fireworks are expected. There are also prescription drugs, but these can have side effects so your vet will want to examine your pet.
Long term desensitisation involves exposing your pet to recordings of fireworks, initially at a very low volume. Stop immediately the animal shows distress and try later at a lower volume. As your pet learns to tolerate the noise, the volume can be increased. This can work well for other noise phobias. CDs are available with ‘scary sounds’, or they can be downloaded from the BBC Sound Effects website.
Finally, do not leave it until November 5 to address this problem. Talk to your vet now.