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Fireworks & Pets: Advice from the Arc

With fireworks season coming up we thought it'd be a good idea to write a post about how best to manage pets with fireowrk phobias.

Bonfire Night is a traditional and welcome celebration for most of us as we enter the colder

winter months. There is nothing better than watching the fireworks whilst sipping some

warm mulled wine! However, for many of our pets, the weeks either side of November 5th

are a time of anxiety and fear.

Furthermore, fireworks are now part of the festivities for many of us over the extended

Christmas and New Year holiday period. Noise phobia is a problem for many dogs, and

also to a lesser degree in cats. It is not fully understood why certain pets become fearful of

noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. Signs may include hiding, vocalising,

shaking, pacing, dilated pupils, panting, drooling and inappropriate urination. The good

news is that our pets needn’t suffer unduly with a fear of loud noises and it’s important for

owners to understand that punishment will increase levels of stress and anxiety, making

problems worse.

Good management aims at reducing the level of distress to the pet. Owners can trial

creating a safe sanctuary for a pet such as a cardboard box or carrier, trying to reduce the

impact of the noise by blocking out the sound altogether, or putting on a radio, playing

white or brown noise. Keeping lights on and closing window coverings will block out the

flashing light that fireworks create.

Numerous prescription and non-prescription medications are useful in helping to sedate

the pet or reducing anxiety. Diffusers are available for dogs and cats from the Arc, which

release an odourless pheromone into the home to reduce stress. It is also possible to try

desensitisation – exposing the pet slowly, over time to a very gradual increase in the noise

stimulus starting from a level which is barely audible while pairing this with the arrival of

food. This would be done until a level is reached where the phobia is eliminated, but is

best carried out with the advice of an accredited behaviour specialist.

It is important that owners of phobic pets are pro-active and prepare by speaking to us and

discussing solutions well in advance of the anticipated event ... so that we can all enjoy

the fireworks!

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