How does your dog cope with bonfire night? Does your cat climb the walls? Unfortunately the fireworks from bonfire night seem to go on for at least a week nowadays, adding to the stress the dogs and cats feel. Remembering that their hearing is a lot more sensitive than ours and you can understand how the loud bangs of the fireworks can easily upset our animals.
Desensitising Your Pets
You can start to prepare your pets for bonfire night by trying to desensitise them to the sounds of the fireworks. When you are playing with your pets and they are in a calm state, try putting on firework sounds from YouTube to get them used to bangs and whizzes of fireworks. Start at a low volume level and increase slowly over time, as long as your pet shows no sign of distress. As soon as your pet shows signs of distress, stop the sounds and walk away. Try again when your pet calms down.
Calming Sprays and Plug-ins
If your pet shows signs of distress, even at low volume levels, when trying to desensitise them, you could try Feliway plug-ins for cats or Adaptil plug-ins or collars for dogs. These sprays mimic natural pheromones that help your pets feel more comfortable in their environments. They can take up to a week to start to show any effects, so you need to start in advance of bonfire night. You can also try diffusers and sprays from Pet Remedy. These contain valerian root that also have a calming effect on pets. Using these products with the desensitising techniques should hopefully help prepare your pets for bonfire night.
Prepare A Dog Den
Dog owners should prepare a den for their dogs. Ideally this should be prepared a couple of weeks in advance and somewhere the dog feels safe, such as behind the sofa, or under a couple of dining chairs. Covering the den helps to protect the dog from the noise and flashes of the fireworks. Ensure the dog can access the den at all times. Healthy treats and a toy can help form a positive association with the space. Products such as appeasing pheromones and calming diffusers and sprays can help, but should be started at least a week before bonfire night.
On Bonfire Night
Doors, windows and pet flaps should be secured and curtains drawn to reduce the noise and flashes of the fireworks. Playing music or having the TV on will further help to mask the noise. The lights should also be kept on to further reduce the effect of flashes from the fireworks.
Also, try to distract your dog or cat with play. Don’t worry, you’re not rewarding your pet’s fear; instead you are readjusting from fearful mode into a fun play mode.
Finally, a pet should not be punished at any time for their behaviour. If a dog or cat finds fireworks increasingly difficult to deal with, a visit to the vet could help further support the pet’s needs with calming medication or a referral to a pet behaviourist.
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