News Article

Firework Phobias and your Pet

Tuesday, 1 October 2013 - 10:00am

The end of the year brings many reasons to celebrate and unfortunately this also brings many reasons for your pet to be nervous. If you have a pet suffering from a noise phobia, fireworks on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve can make the party season stressful. Preparation is the key when trying to address the problem; the sooner you start the better.

What is noise phobia?
It is an over-exaggerated fear of loud sounds. Whilst some form of response is natural, if it becomes terrifying and distressing for your pet it is essential that something is done.

Short-term management   
It is helpful to know when to expect a firework display, so make sure you’re up to date on the timings of all the local shows.

  1. Keep your pets indoors – don’t let them bolt out of the house in panic.
  2. Provide shelter – create a nest in a sound-proof and light-proof room. Use pillows and cushions to make it cosy, play loud rhythmic music to mask the bangs and put the lights on to counter the flashes. View this link on den building, to help you prepare your pet for the firework season.
  3. Act upbeat  – don’t punish or reward fearful behaviour, try and behave as normally as possible.
  4. Play games – maybe bring a non-fearful dog round to play, or practise commands to distract your pet.
  5. Use earplugs correctly – damp cylinders of cotton wool can be used but don’t push them in too far and remember to remove them immediately afterwards.

What can my vet do?
For short-term control or extreme situations, vets can prescribe sedatives for your pet. These should not be seen as an easy alternative, but should be used in combination with the advice above. Most need to be given some time before any noise starts so pay close attention to the vet’s instructions on use.

Zylkene and Dog Appeasing Pheromone – DAP diffusers are both natural treatments that help bring about relaxation and calmness. Why not complete the Sounds Sensitivity Questionnaire, brought to you by Adaptil, to assess your dogs firework fear.

In the meantime, please come along to the talk, or contact your vet for further information on both these products.  Email us here to reserve your place.

Long-term management
A long-term control programme should be instigated as soon as possible to stop your pet from reinforcing his phobia. Contact your vet for information about desensitisation packages that slowly introduce your pet to various loud sounds over time. Your vet will also be able to put you in contact with appropriate behaviourists if you feel you need further help with this process.

Noise phobias are painful for everyone in the household and with some forward-planning and preparation they can be greatly reduced. Start looking into what you can do now, before Bonfire Night is upon us.