It’s the time of year when millions of pets become anxious, upset and frightened.
Fireworks to mark events like bonfire night and Diwali can terrify many pets, but there are steps we can take to help them.
To help owners keep their four-legged friend calm, PDSA has produced a pet firework guide:
Make a cosy den – many pets naturally look for somewhere to hide when they become scared by fireworks. For dogs, you can drape a blanket over a sofa and use pillows and cushions to make is cosy. Cats often feel more secure in an enclosed environment.
Create a positive association – reward your pet when they spend time in the den so they learn that it is a reassuring place to hide if they get scared.
Create a calm environment – you can buy artificial pheromones that help keep pets relaxed and calm. These are calming scents that we can’t smell, but pets can.
Get your pet microchipped - if they do panic and manage to run away, you are much more likely to be reunited with them if they are microchipped.
During firework season:
Steer clear of fireworks - never take your pet to a fireworks display, and walk dogs early before fireworks start.
Come inside - bring any outdoor pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, inside to a quiet room and give them extra bedding to hide in so they feel safe.
Prevent escapes - keep all doors, windows, cat flaps and curtains closed, and play soothing music to help mask the noises.
Don’t comfort - even though it is tempting to cuddle a frightened pet, this will reinforce their fear and make them think their behaviour is right. If your pet gets scared, try to act normally, ignoring the fireworks.
Leave them be – wherever they decide to hide, don’t try to coax them out.
Never restrain or pick up a cat – cats prefer to be in control.
Elaine continues: “Unlike you and I, pets have no idea why there are lots of loud bangs outside. It can be very upsetting for them. Many of our pets have very acute hearing, so the range of sounds adding to their anxiety may also be greater than we can appreciate.”
An anxious pet will often suffer with stress. Dogs may tremble, pace, pant and become ‘clingy’, while cats may try to hide behind furniture, or attempt to run away. Both dogs and cats may refuse to eat and may soil the house because of firework-related stress. Rabbits may freeze and remain motionless, or may panic and try to escape their hutches.
If your pet is very fearful, ask your vet about long-term behavioural therapy. This can take weeks or months, but with time and patience it teaches noise-phobic pets that loud noises are nothing to be scared of.
For further information owners can download a free copy of PDSA’s Fireworks and Your Pet leaflet at www.pdsa.org.uk/leaflets.
PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work.