Well, we’re entering Fireworks Season again! Not only can we expect lots of whizz-bangs for Bonfire Night, but increasingly people are letting off steam and sparks to celebrate Halloween, Divali and Eid in our great multicultural community. Unfortunately, for our more highly-strung pets, this time of year can be terrifying! In this blog, though, we’re going to look at how we can help our pets to cope with and adapt to Fireworks Season.
Help them to Adapt
There are LOADS of things we can do to help pets cope with noise-phobia and fireworks fears without needing to spend a penny on medication or supplements (valuable though these things are)!
First of all, many dogs and cats find the noises of fireworks scary because they are unexpected and unfamiliar. Given the chance to get used to them, fireworks can become no more worrying than the rumble of traffic or the voices on the TV. The trick is to introduce the sounds very softly, so they’re barely audible, and then reward the pet (with a treat or a cuddle) for calm, relaxed behaviour. You can buy CDs of fireworks sounds (we like the Clix CD) but equally well there are loads of sound files you can download from the internet (YouTube is a great resource!). Over time (usually months), you can gradually increase the volume until your pet finds the noises no more scary than any other unexpected sound.
Of course, there will be some pets who haven’t had a chance to become accustomed to fireworks yet, or who are still nervous. The ideal solution is to build them a den or nest, where they can hide away from the horrible sounds and lights in the sky and wait it out (possibly with their paws over their ears!). This should be in a place where they feel safe (possibly somewhere they already run to if they’re scared), and filled with their blankets and cushions (so it smells homely to them). It might be worth putting some favourite toys in as well. If at all possible, make sure it’s covered over so they can’t see anything nasty (this will also help deaden the sound, and make them feel more secure).
Finally – try to act relaxed and normally. Dogs and cats are very quick to pick up on any change in routine or signs of worry, and it’ll just make them even more stressed!
We are lucky enough to have a fully qualified veterinary homeopath, Dr Brendan Clarke, working at the practice! We feel that homeopathic remedies can be very effective for managing both short-term and long-term stress and fear, without necessarily resorting to conventional medications. Of course, any homeopathic remedy should really be tailored to each individual animal, which is why our initial homeopathic consultations last about an hour, as we carefully examine the patient and their full medical- and life-history for clues as to the most effective approach. That said, for “emergency use”, all our vets have access to certain remedies that are pre-prepared and ready to go – so please pop in and ask about them!
These are synthetic versions of natural chemical messengers that dogs and cats use to communicate with and reassure each other. For dogs, we recommend a product called Adaptil, which is based on the scent that a bitch releases to reassure her puppies. For cats, we use Feliway, which is derived from Feline Facial Pheromone, the scent a cat uses to identify what’s theirs (and possibly why they rub their faces against their best friends…!).
Herbal and Natural Calmers
There are a wide variety of nutraceuticals and herbal remedies available to help nervous or frightened pets with various problems. The two in particular that are really useful for fireworks fears we recommend are Nutracalm and Pet Remedy. There are also others on the market, but these are our preferred choices for your pets.
If all else fails…
Sometimes, a dog or a cat is so terrified, that other options are required. We’re holistic vets, not alternative vets – which means that if homeopathy, herbal and nutritional medicine aren’t sufficient, we’re more than happy to prescribe a conventional treatment.
Also read our other blog on Firework Advice here.
Remember, if you’re at all worried about how your pet will cope with fireworks, make an appointment to talk to us in plenty of time!