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Coping with Firework Phobias

Many dogs and cats find the loud noises during firework season stressful and unsettling. Some will have an excessive reaction, with panting, trembling and becoming distressed. Here are some top tips to help them:


* Walk dogs early, before the fireworks start. Keep cats indoors if possible.


* Ensure all windows and doors are securely fastened to reduce the likelihood of escape. All pets should be microchipped, so that if they run away, they are more likely to be identified when found.


* Draw the curtains, play music or have the TV on to reduce the noise your pet hears from outside.


* Provide a den or hiding place where they feel safe. You can feed them in there to encourage them to use the den, or hide treats and toys in it. If your pet hides somewhere (eg under the bed) leave them there, don’t try to pull them out as this will add to their anxiety.


* Ensure dogs have plenty of enrichment to keep their minds active, and tasks to focus on, eg kongs, treat balls.


* Ignore fearful behaviour (panting, shaking, whining), try to reassure your pet if it is very anxious. Never punish your pet for fearful or anxious behaviour.


* Try to act normally! If you are anxious and worried about them, your pet may pick up on this, which will increase their anxiety levels. Behave in a calm and relaxed manner, as if nothing is happening….


* Consider using a natural pheromone product such as Feliway (cats) or Adaptil (dogs) to help them cope. There are other products available, such as Zylkene, which can help. Please ask us for more information.


* The long term treatment for noise phobias is desensitisation. CDs are available to buy which have various noises (pops, bangs, thunder etc). You play the CD very quietly in the background, and over time increase the volume until your pet learns to tolerate loud noises without getting distressed.


* If the problem is severe, make an appointment with our behaviourist, nurse Maxine Wells, who will be able to give practical help and advice.