The Firework season can be a scary time for pets. Statistics show that over half of pets suffer stress or fear because of fireworks
Signs of firework or noise fears
Many dogs are fearful and anxious when exposed to seasonal fireworks: a dog’s response may range from a momentary freeze and orientation to the sound and then recovery, to extreme panic characterized by bolting or escape attempts.
Like other displays of anxiety and fear, signs may include:
- Escape attempts
- Attention seeking (may include vocalisation, pawing, nuzzling or climbing on people)
- Refuge seeking (may involve hiding under or behind furniture and seeking safety in a bathroom)
Some dogs will seek refuge in the home and may be hesitant go outside, while others may seek refuge outside and resist coming inside. Dogs with a fear of fireworks may also show a fear of noises associated with thunderstorms.
General advice during Fireworks
- Keep pets inside the house at night during the firework period.
- Walk dogs during the day and make sure cats are brought inside before nightfall.
- If you have to leave your pets alone at night leave a radio/television on.
- Close curtains and blinds.
- Provide pets with a den to hide in if they are frightened, i.e. behind a sofa. Put some bedding there and do NOT disturb it when it is in its den. Reward pets when they venture out of the den.
Your reaction to your pet’s fearful behaviour is the most important. Try and behave as normal as possible. Cuddles and reassurance encourage pets to continue the behaviour that they are displaying, whether it is sitting nicely or displaying fear. Therefore, it is very important to IGNORE pets for displaying sign of fear and only reward calm behaviour.
Ignoring means: –
- Do NOT look at your pet
- Do NOT speak to your pet
- Do NOT touch your pet
Reward pet’s calm behaviour with cuddles, games and treats.
Never punish fearful behaviour; it makes the situation scarier for the pet
Don’t forget about smaller pets!
If rabbits or guinea pigs live outside, they can also become scared and stressed with the strange lights and noises from fireworks.
Bring hutch’s inside, if this is not possible, cover part of their hutch to effectively sound proof it. Give them some extra bedding so they can create their own den. Don’t cover the whole hutch so they can’t see out.
Certain medications can be used alongside the previous behavioural tips, to help with the stress of Fireworks.
These non prescription medications are natural .
They help reduce the stress of the pets and “take the edge” off the fear.
As natural medications, they do not help in 100% of cases and in more extreme cases Prescription medications are needed.
Fast acting – nutracalm is a fast acting natural supplement with calming properties. It has been designed to promote a quick natural response once taken, with results often evident within 1 hour* of taking the capsule.
*This time is an average and based on dog and cat owner experience and is likely to vary depending on the individual circumstances.
Highest quality ingredients – nutracalm only contains the highest quality natural ingredients. All raw materials are both ethical and sustainable. Nutracalm does not contain any animal derived ingredients.
Easy administration – nutracalm is easy to administer, each sprinkle capsule can be given whole by mouth or the contents can be sprinkled into food.
GABA* – GABA is an important neurotransmitter in the brain and is responsible for relaxing the nervous system. A lack of GABA may lead to anxiety and phobias.
L-Theanine – L-Theanine is an amino acid component of Green Tea and is involved in Dopamine neurotransmitter function. It has been shown to have a calming effect in dogs and cats.
L-Tryptophan – L-Tryptophan is a natural amino acid found in many proteins which is involved in the production of the hormone Serotonin and has been shown to help reduce aggression and stress.
Passiflora Incarnata – Commonly known as passion flower this extract has long been known for its ability to relax and reduce tension. Biochemical studies show that natural flavonoids are a key active ingredient and that Passiflora supports the effectiveness of GABA brain receptors which promote relaxation.
Adaptil and feliway
Adaptil and Feliway are products that contain pheromones.
Pheromones are natural chemical ‘signals’, which are secreted by animals to communicate different types of messages to themselves or others.
One pheromone dog’s use is called the ‘dog appeasing pheromone’ that a mother produces to reassure her puppies. This pheromone has been proven to not only reassure puppies, but also adult dogs in challenging situations such as fireworks night.
ADAPTIL® is a synthetic copy of this pheromone and studies have shown its effectiveness in helping dogs with sound sensitivities.
FELIWAY CLASSIC is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone (odourless to people and other animals) that cats leave behind when they rub their faces on the furniture, doorways, people’s legs and other objects in the home.
FELIWAY CLASSIC is clinically proven to support cats during stressful situations and to help solve unwanted behavioural problems.
Plugging in an ADAPTIL diffuser or using an ADAPTIL collar early will help create a calm atmosphere in your home to help your dog with firework anxiety.
Plugging in an FELIWAY diffuser or using Feliway spray early will help create a calm atmosphere in your home to help pet with firework anxiety.
Sedatives and POM medications
Sedatives are sometimes used to suppress the fear during fireworks; however they do not actually help in reducing fear levels in the long term as they can sometimes just inhibit the animal’s ability to respond.
There are a number of other products that can be used to help supress the response to fireworks and reduce the anxiety pets feel.
These are Prescription medications and need to be prescribed by a vet
Prevention and long term solutions
Preventing Firework fears
This is best achieved when pets are young. Young animals are very receptive during their early socialisation period in the first few months of their life.
During these early months, they should be introduced to a wide range of potentially scary sounding things e.g. hoover, washing machine, hair dryer etc. and taught that they are harmless. This can also be done with using specific audio CD’s with these noises on it.
These audio CD’s can also be used in older pets to try and de sensitise the noise fear. Progressive introduction of these sounds can reduce or even eliminate future firework fears. They also include other sounds such as guns firing and babies crying to ensure that your pet becomes used to a wide range of potentially scary noises.
These options should be carried it in advance of firework season and not a solution in the period running up to the firework season.