When fireworks are let off sporadically, stress and anxiety can become common amongst dogs and cats.
This can continue from October to the New Year and can be a stressful time for pets, as well as their owners. For a pet affected by loud noises, the fireworks season can be a terrifying time.
If your pet becomes stressed, they could display this in a number of ways, such as, vocalisation, shaking, aggression, reduced appetite and ears pinned back. There are, however, many positive things that can be done to help keep your pets calm.
Provide a den
This can be an enclosed ‘safe place’ for your pet to hide. Cover the top and all sides of a crate, table or cupboard near the centre of the home, or where they have previously hidden. Make it comfortable. You can even add a jumper or t-shirt of yours that will smell familiar to them. Let them come and go as they please.
During the fireworks stay calm yourself and don’t react to any loud bangs, as your pet will react to you. Try not to worry and don’t get angry with your pet or over fuss them, just reassure them gently and be as normal and routine as possible.
Don’t punish your pet
If they do anything out of the ordinary due to stress, don’t punish them. This is a reaction to how they feel in a situation and shouting at them could lead to further stress.
Keep pets indoors
To prevent extra stress, keep pets indoors during the fireworks. For cats who like to go outside, make sure you place plenty of litter trays around the house, especially by usual exit points. Make sure your dog has had an opportunity to go to the toilet well before it gets dark.
Provide your pet with plenty of toys to distract them from the loud noises. Ignore the fireworks yourself and play with your pet, but don’t force them to.
Mask the sound of fireworks
Try and mask the sound of fireworks by putting the TV on or playing some music, especially if animals are left home alone. You could also muffle the sound of the fireworks by closing the curtains and windows.
Stick to your routine
Maintain your routine and try to keep all feeding and walking routines as normal as possible. This will help to reduce any stress for your pet.
Take your dog for walks in the day
Burn extra energy by taking your dog on a longer walk during the day. Avoid walking them at night when fireworks are being set off, try morning or afternoon walks.
Comfort your pet
Sit close to your pet and stroke them to try and keep them calm. Physical contact could help to make them feel safe and reduce their anxiety.
Prepare in advance
If you know a specific event is taking place or when the fireworks are likely to be set off try to prepare ahead of time.
If your pet is generally quite fretful and anxious then you can look into introducing behavioural techniques to help overcome the issues. Speak to your vet who can help advise the best approach for your pet
Utilise calming products
There are a wide range of products on the market that have been developed to help pets that get stressed and frightened by the fireworks. These include: natural supplements such as Nutracalm, which works within a couple of hours, Anxiety vests such as Thundershirts and plugin diffusers such as Adaptil.