Falling leaves and bonfires are the first signs that Autumn is well and truly here, and while we all love nothing more than wrapping up to watch a firework display, this can be a tricky time for our four legged friends.
Fireworks season can be truly terrifying for pets, particularly cats and dogs who quickly become overwhelmed by the sudden sights and booming sounds. Not only do the loud unexpected noises induce great fear, but for the sensitive ears of small animal’s, fireworks can actually cause a great deal of pain.
Although we can’t put a stop to the thousands of fireworks that will be set off in the coming weeks, we can help our pets to cope better. We recommend that all pet owners consult their vet for specialist behavioural advice, but in the meantime here is a handy list of things you can do at home to help keep your furry friends as relaxed as possible this season.
Batten Down the Hatches
Fireworks overhead can leave your pets trying to find the nearest available exit, so make sure that you prevent unwanted escapes by shutting all windows and closing all doors. If you have cat flaps with locks then switch them to closed, or if necessary shut your cat into one or two rooms with a litter tray, plenty of food and water, and a bolthole to hide in.
Stop Walking Worries
Dogs can find walking incredibly stressful when surrounded by booming explosions, so try and bring forward your evening walks to avoid the start of the local fireworks. Of course, it will be impossible to avoid them all, and if you are caught out and about with fireworks overhead don’t panic! If you stay calm, your dog will too, so keep them on a short lead and keep reassuring them along the way.
Frightened dogs and cats will be constantly in fight or flight mode, meaning that when threatened their first instinct is to run. Make sure that your pet has a name tag on their collar, or better still a microchip so that if the unthinkable happens, and your pet escapes from their leash or from an open door or window, they can be easily traced back to you.
For anxious animals, even the most careful handling cannot help them overcome their phobia of fireworks, but there are remedies at hand that can help. Feliway diffusers are commonly used to help reduce stress levels in cats. They are simply plugged in to a socket and they then release pheromones that, when used over a few weeks, can radically improve your animal’s behaviour.
Keep them Indoors
It goes without saying that cats and dogs should be kept indoors, but often we forget about the small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and birds. If at all possible, bring all hutches and cages indoors into a garage, shed or conservatory in order to keep them away from the noise. If you cannot relocate them then at least try and turn enclosures around to face the fence overnight. Whether inside or outside, it is a good idea to use blankets to cover pet cages so that it blocks out the sights and sounds some of the fireworks and also provide extra bedding for them to snuggle into if they do become afraid.