Our nurse Beth Mendoza has prepared some fantastic advice if you need to prepare your pet for bonfire night, which is fast approaching over the coming month. In fact, with fireworks sounding earlier every year here’s how to get ready fast for Autumn!
“As we welcome Autumn, many of us are preparing for festivities over the coming months. But are we preparing our pets for them too? Halloween, bonfire night, Christmas and New Year are all wonderful celebrations for many of us but some of our dogs and cats can find the excitement and disruption to daily life very stressful.
Whilst we are having good fun, it’s likely that our dogs and cats are noticing loud noises, a change in environment and an influx of visitors. For many pets this can invoke fear, panic and distress and it’s our job to help them become more calm and comfortable.
Creating a safe place or a ‘den’ at home proves comforting for many dogs or cats who are unnerved by loud noises or strangers. This den can be a makeshift dark and quiet place at home, perhaps a blanket draped over a table or chair, or a cozy spot behind the sofa. If your dog is used to using a crate, you could add a cover over the top to make it extra sheltered and reassuring. Prepare the den in advance so your pet can become familiar with their new retreat.
As night approaches, perhaps turn up the T.V or radio a little louder to drown out the noise, draw the curtains and provide a fun distraction such as a Kong if your cat or dog can become destructive when stressed.
How we can help
Use calming products to soothe your pet, running up to and during festivities. There are many gentle products available so we can help you choose one to suit your cat or dog.
Our most popular products include:
ADAPTIL ( dogs) : used as a spray, plug in diffuser or collar, Adaptil products release a synthetic pheromone that replicates that which a female dog would naturally release to her puppies that induces a sense or safety, security and comfort. It is recommended that you begin to use Adaptil products at least 2 weeks before the desired effect, but a month before will have even better results. Adaptil have some specific information about fireworks and stress here.
FELIWAY ( cats) : Feliway can be used as a spray or diffuser plug in. Feliway works by releasing a synthetic pheromone that induces a positive feed back response. Have you every seen your cat rubbing their cheeks against the sofa, chair or even your leg? They’re actually scent marking using special glands, which let them know that their environment is a safe place. Feliway works in the same way to help your feline friend feel relaxed at all times.
NUTRACALM: a nutraceutical capsule which can be opened up and sprinkled onto food or given whole, depending on what your dog or cat prefers. Nutracalm can work as quickly as 1 hour after being given and is safe to use over prolonged periods of time, containing natural and ethically sourced ingredients. Read more about Nutracalm.
HERBAL AND HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES: As a holistic practice, we also offer natural remedies to help your pet cope. Individual remedies can be tailored to your pets needs, depending on their specific fears and reactions. Please speak to a member of our team for more information.
BEHAVIOUR ADVICE: It is important to understand how your cat or dog may be feeling and also how our own reactions can impact our pets. If your dog is showing signs of fear or stress ( this could be howling, barking or destructive behaviour) it is important not to punish them. Equally, reacting by over-fussing them can condition our pets into believing that they are correct to be afraid. The best way to respond is to keep calm as dogs are incredibly sensitive to our own negative vibes. By not reacting to loud bangs and carrying on your day or evening as normal you are showing your dog that there is no reason to be afraid.
Cats will often retreat when scared and naturally retire to a safe place, so make sure a den is prepared as mentioned earlier. Sometimes, cats can become prone to passing urine in usual places when stressed, and some can even develop cystitis. It may be worth adding a couple of extra litter trays around the house so that they don’t have to venture too far out of their comfort zone to go to the toilet. Excess scratching on furniture or curtains can be seen in stressed cats so providing a scratching post or toys can also help.
We offer individual behavioural consultations where we can tailor advice for you and your pet to ensure everyone stays calm and relaxed through what can become, a very stressful and upsetting time for us as owners too!
Many cat and dog owners have found that desensitising their pets to the sound of fireworks or other strange noises can be invaluable. CDs of such noises are played repeatedly, very quietly to begin with as subtle background noises. Over time, the volume is gradually increased without your pet noticing any dramatic changes. Soon enough the sound of bangs and clatters becomes part of everyday background noise and this can prevent negative reactions to loud bangs outdoors.
When to see your vet
Sometimes our pets become so stressed that prescription medication is required. We understand that no two animals are the same and we would urge you to book an appointment with a vet if the above products or tips aren’t helping and your pet is becoming distressed.
I hope you found this helpful, and don’t forget we’re always here to help and are happy to sit down and chat about what may work best for your pet. Please get in touch on 0113 2678419 or 01274610627 for any more information.”
Beth Mendoza RVN