With the fireworks season approaching rapidly, this can be a difficult time for pets who can become very fearful when they hear loud bangs.
A combination of careful management and medication can be essential to ease their distress.
Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to and has access to this place at all times. For example this could be under some furniture or in a cupboard. It should be a place where the animal feels it is in control, so don’t interfere with it when it’s in that area. Train your dog to associate the area with positive experiences eg. by leaving toys there but not imposing yourself at any time. Close any windows and black out the ‘doggy play area’ to remove any extra problems caused by flashing lights.
During firework seasons, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off. At nightfall close windows and curtains and put on TV or music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks. If your pet shows any signs of fear try to ignore their behaviour. Leave them alone unless they are likely to harm themselves. Never punish or fuss over your pet when it’s scared as this will only make things worse in the long run. Make sure your cat or dog is always kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape.
In terms of medication, there may be a couple of options. I often suggest that owners try pheromone diffusers. These disperse calming chemicals into the room and may be a good option for your cat or dog. In some cases your vet may even prescribe sedative medication. Your pet will need to be examined by a vet to ensure that the medication can be safely prescribed.
Finally, I would recommend “Sounds Scary”, an easy to follow therapy pack for dogs which includes a specially made set of sound recordings and an easy to follow guide. The amount of training needed will vary from dog to dog so owners should start training with the Sounds Scary pack well in advance of firework seasons.