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Pet Care Tips for Firework Season

Here are a few helpful hints to help your pet cope with the stress of Bonfire Night.

For most people, fireworks are fun. But if you’re a frightened pet, it can be a stressful time of year. Here are a few helpful hints to help your pet cope with the stress of Bonfire Night.

Prevention is better than cure

The best way to treat a phobia is to stop it from developing in the first place. Helping your puppy or kitten associate loud noises with a positive experience – such as treats or playtime – will help them develop into a confident adult. You can pick up CDs produced for this purpose, complete with recordings of fireworks and other loud noises.

If however, your pet has already developed a phobia, there are lots of other ways to keep them calm.

Calming pheromones

There are plenty of dog calming products out there. Adaptil mirrors the pheromones produced by female dogs to calm their puppies, and has been shown to reduce stress in adult dogs. Also available as a plug in or collar, you should start using it two weeks before Bonfire Night.

Feliway for cats is a pheromone that can help reduce stress. It’s available as a spray or a plug in.

Nutritional supplements

Calmex, YuCALM and Zylkene can reduce stress in dogs and cats. As they contain natural proteins and vitamins, they don’t require a prescription.

Make a den

Creating a safe, dark and cosy place your pet can hide in can help them combat stress. They often feel better under or behind furniture. Add a cosy bed and some pheromone spray to create a safe haven for your pet to seek refuge in.

Loud music

Playing loud music with a heavy beat can help drown out the noise of the fireworks. Make sure your pet gets used to hearing the music before Bonfire Night.

Close the curtains

This will stop your pet reacting to flashes of light. Even if the light itself doesn’t frighten your pet, they may associate it with the loud bangs.

Don’t reward anxious behaviour

Act calmly and normally around your pet. By fussing over them you’re inadvertently making the behaviour worse. Once your pet is calm, reward them with a treat.

Distract them

If your pet is only mildly stressed, they might be distracted by a game or a toy.

Walk them earlier

Make sure you take your dog out for a walk before the fireworks start and keep your pets indoors after dark during firework season.

If you try the above and your pet doesn’t improve, you should seek professional help. Your vet may be able to prescribe medication for dogs or cats with anxiety, whilst behaviourists can help prevent the problem from worsening. The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors can help you find a registered behaviourist.