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Help your pet feel safe during the firework season

Bonfire night can be a distressing and frightening time for all our pets, you can really help your pet by ensuring you make them as calm and comfortable as possible.
As well as the obvious dangers from fireworks and bonfires, be aware that some pets can get very scared and run off, sometimes resulting in serious injuries or getting lost.

Below is a list of things you can do to help your pet feel safe during the firework season.

1. A fireworks noise CD can be used to desensitise them to the sound of fireworks but this needs to be used leading up to the firework season.

2. Pheromone diffusers such as the Adaptil diffuser or collar (dogs) or the feliway diffuser or spray (cats) can help with mild cases. The diffuser is plugged in to a socket near where your pet spends most of his time. It releases a synthetic version of calming pheromones to help reassure them.

3. A ‘safe haven’, such as a den, will ensure your pet has a place to go and settle if he is distressed by the noise of fireworks.

4. Getting your pet microchipped will increase the chance that your pet can be traced back to you if lost.

Do:

•Keep your pet indoors with windows and doors securely closed when fireworks are being set off. Leave internal doors open so they don’t feel trapped.

•Try to sound proof your house – closing windows and drawing curtains. Also provide some background “white-noise” such as the TV, radio or other music. It is wise to start this well in advance of the fireworks starting.

•Ensure your pet has access to a place where he can go and settle if he is distressed by the noise of fireworks. This may be his usual bed but you can also offer an alternative such as a blanket under a table with some of your old clothes as this will provide somewhere to hide and will be a comfort to your pet. Let cats hide where they like – do not try to tempt them out. If your cat is scared, do not pick him up or restrain him.

•Take your dog for his usual walk before the fireworks are set off and ensure that he is kept on a lead at all times just incase the noise of a firework causes him to bolt. Feed him as normal as this may help to settle him down for the evening.

•Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and tag with up to date details on so that if he does run away there is a greater chance of him being returned to you. we strongly advise that your pet is also microchipped as this increases the chance that your pet can be traced back to you if lost.

•Praise your pet when he is calm as this will help reassure him.

Don’t:

•Take your dog to a fireworks display or walk your pet while fireworks are being set off, as this will often cause distress. Remember your pet doesn’t have to be showing signs such as shaking or whimpering to be distressed as even excessive panting or yawning can indicate that he is anxious.

•Let your dog off the lead near a bonfire or fireworks display.

•Leave your pet alone if he is distressed - just like us our pets, seek comfort in numbers, so your presence will help reassure your pet that he is safe.

•Shout at your pet if he has been destructive as a result of distress - this will only upset him more.

•Attempt to comfort your dog. Unfortunately in many cases our natural reaction is to comfort a distressed dog but this will make their fear worse. By paying attention to their behaviour when upset we can teach them that fireworks are something they really should be frightened of. The best way to cope is to prepare for the evening as best you can and then ignore them unless they are calm and behaving normally in which you can give them fuss and attention.

Small pets and wildlife

Ideally, bring the hutch inside. If this is not possible, partly cover hutches and other outside cages with blankets so that they have some soundproofing.

Make sure hutches and cages contain hiding places and secure areas where they can go to feel safe, with plenty of bedding – this will help keep noise out and provide a hiding place.

If you are having your own bonfire ensure it is nowhere near any pets. Always check underneath a bonfire before lighting as hedgehogs may be hibernating there.
If you are worried about fireworks and you pet please call the surgery for advice.