Pet food brand IAMS issue fireworks advice
Veterinary Training Manager at IAMs, Kellie Ceccarelli, has put together some top tips on how pet owners should comfort and prepare their animals ahead of fireworks night.
The sound of fireworks can be both frightening and distressing for pets. Noise phobias can affect cats and dogs of any age, breed, gender or neutering status. Kittens, puppies and elderly pets, as well as those with fearful temperaments or who have suffered a traumatic experience are also more likely to be sensitive to the loud bangs. In dogs, some breeds are more susceptible to noise phobias, such as German Shepherd Dogs, Border Collies and other herding breeds.
Kellie Ceccarelli shares her top ten ways to comfort pets, and avoid unnecessary stress this bonfire night.
1. Avoid displays: Noise phobic dogs should not be taken to firework displays in the hope that they’ll become used to the noise. Doing so will probably intensify their fears. Similarly, with cats, keep them safely in doors on bonfire night.
2. Modify the noises your pet can hear: Dogs can be positively trained to wear noise-cancelling headphones. If your pet suffers noise phobia you could try playing distracting sounds from your TV or radio, but be sure not to play it so loud that the background music itself worsens the problem.
3. Close doors and windows: Make sure all blinds, shutters, and curtains are shut during a fireworks event. Also, make sure your cat is micro-chipped in case he does escape as frightened and confused animals can easily get lost
4. Don’t use punishment: Avoid shouting at your pet if he reacts to the sound of fireworks. This will only make him more anxious and he may even react aggressively towards you.
5. Create a safe haven: for your pet with familiar, comforting items such as their blanket, cushion, a couple of toys and some treats. Encourage your pet to regularly spend time here before the fireworks season begins, then on the day of the event, attempt to settle your pet in this space a couple of hours in advance. Cats may choose their own hiding place as this is where they feel most secure.
6. Medication: Your vet may prescribe anxiolytic medication to aid treatment and minimise your pet’s suffering. The goal here is to reduce the intensity of your pet’s fears. These medications should be used in combination with a behaviour modification plan outlined by your vet.
7. Pheromones and homeopathic treatments: There is no scientific evidence to prove these are useful, but they’re worth investigating in less serious cases and before gaining a prescription from your vet.
8. Provide comfort: Try to be home or have someone stay with your pet during a fireworks event. It may help some dogs if you hold them firmly and lean into them. But only do this with dogs that approach you first and if you think it will benefit them. Release them if they struggle. Long firm massage strokes may also help. Whereas, fearful cats prefer to be left on their own.
9. Anxiety Wrap: There is no scientific evidence to show that wearing an Anxiety Wrap reduces anxiety amongst fireworks-sensitive pets. However, wearing a wrap may provide reassurance and comfort to pets that are used to wearing them. Just keep an eye on them in case of over-heating.
10. Play CDs of firework sounds: In some cases, behaviour modification techniques such as desensitisation and counter conditioning to sounds from a CD are effective. This involves getting your pet used to the sound of fireworks on a CD at a volume that doesn’t provoke a fearful or panicked reaction. Gradually work your way through the CD, offering rewards at various milestones, with the aim of teaching your to pet to be comfortable with the sounds.