The nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to turn and there’s a nip in the air… And with autumn’s arrival comes the time all pet owners dread: firework season. Much as we’d like to put our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not going to happen, it certainly will – and it is never too soon to prepare. In fact, the longer you prepare your dog, the better the chances of success. The experts at 365 Vet have some tips to help…
Does your dog have a fear of fireworks?
If you are wondering whether your dog is having trouble coping with loud noises and you’re unsure of the signs, check the list of symptoms below:
- Trembling and shaking
- Showing increased ‘clinginess’
- Barking excessively
- Cowering and hiding behind furniture
- Trying to run away
- Soiling in the house
- Pacing and panting
- Refusing to eat
Spotting when your pet is exhibiting these symptoms is the first step toward supporting them.
Firework fears and noise phobias
Many dogs suffer from anxiety during the firework season, with firework fears affecting up to 80% of pets. If ignored, those fears can progress to a more serious noise phobia, whereby even the slightest noise causes panic and sudden, extreme and excessive reactions. It is increasingly difficult to pinpoint the exact evenings when fireworks will be let off as it is no longer a single night. The problem can be up to three weekends of loud bangs and explosions, so this year it is worth preparing early.
To help minimise the anxiety that many dogs suffer from during the firework season, here are some top tips to help calm and reassure your pet.
Preparing a den for your dog
You can prepare a den for your dog to retreat to while the fireworks are going off, ideally a month in advance so they are comfortable using it when the fireworks start. The den should be covered to protect your dog from both the sudden noise and flashing lights of fireworks. If your dog is used to sleeping in a crate, it is a good idea to cover the crate with a blanket or towel to enhance its feeling of security. A den can be made from anything; for example, a strong cardboard box turned on its side, a table or chairs.
The comfort of this den can be further enhanced by using an ADAPTIL Diffuser near the den and/or spraying the inside of the den with ADAPTIL Spray. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the natural canine appeasing pheromone designed to help support dogs in stressful situations.
If your dog finds its own convenient bolthole, such as under a bed or at the bottom of a cupboard, it should be accessible, comfortable and safe. You should wait until your dog is ready to come out of its den or hiding place. Do not try to coax them out of their hiding place, this can cause more distress to your pet.
Some stressed dogs can pant a lot more so make sure a water bowl is accessible at all times this can be placed either in the den or nearby.
For a dog that doesn’t require a den
If there is no space or opportunity to build a den, an Adaptil Diffuser will provide pheromone support while fireworks are going off. The Adaptil diffuser will only take 24 hours to become fully functional once plugged in and should be plugged in approximately two weeks prior to the event (to allow the pheromone to support your dog in the run-up to fireworks going off). Each ADAPTIL refill will last up to four weeks and the Adaptil diffuser head will need to be replaced every 6 months. For constant support in and out of the home, an Adaptil Collar will last up to 4 weeks and can be used in addition to the diffuser. The Adaptil Spray can be applied to the dog’s bedding for shorter periods of support.
Keeping your dog entertained
A healthy treat or a favourite toy can be put in the den to distract your pet. A Kong chew toy is ideal, as it can be filled with food to keep your dog’s attention. If your dog has a favourite toy you can add that to their den – anything to make that space feel secure and familiar.
Masking noise and light
Curtains should be drawn and blinds shut to muffle out any noise and reduce the intensity of the flashing lights from outside. Play soothing music or have the TV on to further mask the noise of fireworks. Doors and windows should be locked and remain closed, this will muffle the noise but also prevent your dog from escaping if they decide to bolt in panic.
Seeing you acting normally during fireworks will also help your dog feel more settled. Try to avoid leaving your dog on its own while the fireworks are going off, as it may injure itself through fright. Do not punish your dog for showing fearful behaviour during fireworks, it cannot help being anxious.
Additional hints and tips
All dogs should now be microchipped by law. If your dog bolts during fireworks it is likely to be hiding nearby, so you should search the local area. If this is unsuccessful, phone your local police station, any veterinary practices, local kennels, rescue centres and the dog warden to see whether your dog has been handed in.
Walk your dog early in the evening to avoid going out during the fireworks. If you are worried that your pet is taking a long time to recover from the firework festivities, you could speak to your vet about a behavioural therapy programme. The experts at 365 Vet are available if you need any advice during the firework season too.