Take the stress out of fireworks season for pets

At this time of year, it’s common for pets to become anxious due to loud bangs going off sporadically between October and the New Year.

With some public displays being cancelled again this year, the fireworks could be closer to home for some pets, as many people will hold unofficial displays in their gardens.

The RSPCA reports that 44% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, and many pet owners find it equally stressful and look for solutions to help their anxious animals.

Some common signs that your pet is stressed or anxious can include:

– Shaking

– Ears pinned back & tail tucked under

– Whining or barking

– Reduced appetite

– Panting

– Yawning or drooling

Korina Stephens RVN at Nutravet comments: “Fireworks are one of the most common causes of stress for cats and dogs. With lots of bangs going off at the same time, pets are unable to understand where the noise is coming from and what is causing it. Some pets can show their anxiety in different ways and it can be worrying for pet owners to see their much-loved four-legged friends suffering.

“Preparing in advance is key to helping reduce stress for your dog or cat during the fireworks season. If you are particularly worried about your dog or cat, speak to your vet, as they will be able to offer advice and natural solutions to help keep your pet calm at this time.”

Nutravet share their top tips to reduce stress for pets:

In the lead up to bonfire night:

Microchip – In the lead up to the fireworks, make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date in case they get scared and run off during the night.

Check for local displays – Check when and where there will be fireworks displays in your local area, so you know when to expect the loud bangs. You could also speak to neighbours and ask if they are having their own displays to let you know and make them aware that you have a pet that gets scared of the noise.

Routines – Fixed routines can help to keep your pet calm. Any changes to your normal household routine can upset and stress your pet. Stick to the same feeding and walk routine and stay calm yourself. Pets can pick up when you’re anxious and that could in turn cause them stress.

During the fireworks:

Create a hiding place – Make a den or hiding place for your pet to go to should they become anxious. This could be under the bed or a table or a dog crate in a room they feel comfortable in, not too far from the rest of the family. You could place an item of your clothing in there to help relax and make them feel safe.

Dog walks – Walk your dog earlier in the day to prevent being out when the fireworks start going off or before it goes dark. Try to stick to areas your dog knows in case they get spooked and run off.

Block out the noise – Close all window and doors and close the curtains to help block out any scary bangs or flashes of light. You could also put the TV or radio on to help drown out the noise of the fireworks. Make sure there is nowhere for your dog or cat to escape out of the house – if you need to open the front door, make sure your pet is safely in another room.

Don’t make a fuss – If your pet is anxious when the loud bags go off, stay calm yourself and try not to make too much of a fuss of your pet. They will react to your reactions and if you jump, this could lead to them becoming more anxious.

Distractions – Use toys or treats to help distract your pet from the fireworks noise. Engage them in play or try to get them to do some tricks. Play will also help to use up some energy, but don’t force them to play if they don’t want to, this may cause them further stress.

Don’t shout at your pet – If your dog goes to the toilet in the house or does something they normally wouldn’t do, don’t shout at them as this could cause further stress. This behaviour could be down to your dog being scared not unruly.

Speak to your vet – If you are worried about your pet during this time, speak to your vet who is best placed to offer advice on how to calm your pet.

Natural calming supplements – Consider using a natural calming supplement for dogs and cats, such as Nutracalm, which can be given 2 hours before the fireworks start. They are specifically formulated to naturally calm anxious pets fast, without any sedative effect.

For more pet health tips visit www.nutravet.co.uk