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Firework Fear

Fear of fireworks is a common problem and many pets show a variety of signs of stress when they hear fireworks. A mild apprehension can progress to a serious firework phobia and this can easily generalise into anxiety about ordinary day to day sounds, such as cars back firing.

There's a lot you can do to both reduce the risk of your pet becoming anxious about fireworks and to treat your pet if they have already developed a firework phobia.

The following information explains how you can minimise anxiety in your pet when there are fireworks about - which seems to be for longer and longer periods each year! - and advises how to react to your pet should they become anxious. It is crucial that you neither punish nor reassure your dog if he/she becomes anxious.

You will see reference to the use of Feliway , Adaptil and Pet Remedy plug in pheromone diffusers. You do not need to see a vet before buying these products and we stock them at both of our surgeries.

For long term permanent problems it is well worth considering a course of systemic desensitisation for dogs. This involves the use of specially produced audio or apps which replicate the sound of fireworks. 

Vetpro Natural Stress & Anxiety can be used to support desensitisation.

Some pets are so very fearful of fireworks that they may need drug therapy. This may be a short-term tranquilliser for one or two specific “firework” nights, or a longer term course of anti-anxiety drugs to support them whilst they are having systemic desensitisation. If you feel your pet would benefit from the extra support of medication please book an appointment with one of our vets.

Help your cat feel secure during fireworks

Before the event

  • If possible keep your cat confined to the house for the week leading up to the event. Provide a litter tray.
  • Make sure your cat has some form of identification (preferably a microchip) in case it gets lost if it flees in fright.
  • One week before the event plug a Feliway or Pet Remedy diffuser into the room your cat uses to rest in.
  • Make sure there are plenty of bolt holes and hiding places for your cat to go to.

On the day of the event

  • Check your cat is indoors and can’t escape
  • Create a darkened room and play some music or put the radio on to drown out the firework sound.
  • If your cat chooses to hide, leave well alone allowing it to choose when to emerge.
  • Don’t fuss your cat during the event - the urge to cuddle and reassure your cat should be avoided as this reinforces their fears.
  • Stay calm and act normally.

After the event

  • Leave the Feliway or Pet remedy diffuser plugged in for at least a week after the event. If lots of firework events are planned near you, leave the diffuser plugged in for this whole period.

Help your dog to overcome fear of fireworks

At least one week before the event

  • Prepare a refuge area, a den and encourage your dog to use it by hiding food and treats there.
  • Plug in an Adaptil or Pet Remedy diffuser as close to the den area as possible and leave it switched on at all times.

On the day of the event

  • At sundown, close all doors and windows and draw the curtains.
  • Make sure you have something to do in this room so you can stay with your dog.
  • Put some music on.
  • Try to engage your pet in some form active game.
  • Ignore any fearful behaviour. Do not fuss or attempt to reassure your dog when it is scared as this rewards the behaviour.
  • Don’t punish your dog when it is scared.
  • Make sure your dog is kept in a safe and secure environment at all times.
  • Adaptil or Pet Remedy spray can be applied to the dog's bedding on the night of the event for additional reassurance; alternatively put an Adaptil collar onto your dog. The spray or collar is additional to the Adapil or Pet remedy diffuser.

After the event

  • Leave the Adaptil or Pet remedy diffuser plugged in for at least one week after the firework event/s.

Other pets

Don’t forget any small pets that live outdoors such as rabbits and guinea pigs. If possible move them into a shed or garage and ensure they have somewhere they can hide away.

Contact the surgery and request your free firework pack today!

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