Culture

Remember, Remember Our Pets

As Bonfire Night approaches, pet owners may find themselves more stressed than excited by the prospect.

Vet charity PDSA is urging owners to take preventive action – especially those who took on a pet during the pandemic – in a bid to reduce the extreme distress and suffering that fireworks can cause for many of our four-legged friends. 

Our pets’ enhanced senses mean they can find the loud noises and bright flashes from fireworks overwhelming, which can lead to severe anxiety and trauma.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said:

“The firework season may be an especially difficult time for pups who were raised during lockdown – our 2021 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report shows that 15 per cent of UK dogs (139,000) obtained during the pandemic are showing signs of fear.

“One well recognised fear in dogs is noise phobias, and our previous research reports that 40% of dogs are afraid of fireworks. Of those dogs owned before the pandemic, our research revealed 3% of dogs (260,000) were reported as showing signs of fear, so it’s unknown what the impact will be come November.

“Thankfully, there are simple steps to reduce distress in our furry family members – the sooner you can start preparing the better. While some pets who are very affected by fireworks can take months of training to make them more comfortable with the bangs and flashes, there are still plenty of things you can do now to help. 

“PDSA has produced a free guide to help owners lessen the impact of this stressful period.”

PDSA’s top tips on tackling fireworks phobias include:

Start early

The earlier you can start your pre-fireworks prep, the better – aim to start getting them used to the bangs and whistles at least six weeks prior to Bonfire Night or other big occasions. Play firework noises quietly throughout the house and pair these with their favourite treat. If they show any signs of stress, stop the noises, and try again at a lower volume when they are not reacting. Continue to do this all year round, so your pet builds up positive associations with these sounds.

Secure your garden

Secure your home and garden in advance, as fearful furry friends may panic and scarper. Ensure any ‘escape routes’ – such as holes in fences – are inaccessible.

Set up a hideaway

Create a ‘den’ in a quiet room or cupboard, which your pet can use as a safe space to hide in. It’s important that your pet already views this space as a safe place that they can escape to. Make it extra cosy with blankets and their favourite toys and treats, and add pillows or cushions to help absorb the loud noises – you can also do the same to hutches for smaller four-legged friends, who may also appreciate some extra bedding to hide away in.

Create calm vibes

Using pheromone products can help anxious pets, as the scents they release provide a calming effect to relax a stressed pooch or puss. You can even prepare a calming playlist, as music with a repetitive beat might help to disguise the loud bangs from fireworks and may keep your furry friend relaxed.

Speak to your vet

If you’re concerned your pet has a severe phobia of fireworks, it’s best to speak to an expert. Your vet can advise you on measures to improve the phobia, such as professional behaviour therapy or prescribe medications to help.

For more information on how to prepare your pet for Bonfire Night and to download PDSA’s free Firework Guide, please visit www.pdsa.org.uk/fireworks2021.

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2 replies »

  1. On Wednesday evening someone nearby set off some fireworks. We wondered about the sheep in the fields nearby who had been frightened a few days before by the sound of hunters shooting, and the other, wild, creatures.

    Thursday morning Mike went to walk a neighbour’s dog. The dog had been terrified the night before, barking, barking, baking, was still nervous on Thursday morning and reluctant to leave the house. He knows what good times he has on walks, and trusts Mike, so he set off, then relaxed and had a grand time on the beach.

    But that was Wednesday. So, Thursday night we were wondering what might happen. I was puttering about living in a peaceful place, only to have guns and fireworks going off at this time of year. Thank goodness – the evening was peaceful.

    But now there’s tonight…..and tomorrow……and????

    Is it worth it, for some pretty colours in the sky ( a light show could produce a similar effect), to have a very good natured, normally happy animal, terrified to the point where he doesn’t want to leave the house the next day?

    That was a rhetorical question.

    The problem is, those reading this will already probably be of this way of thinking. The ones who do what they want, regardless of others, because they don’t look outside themselves, aren’t likely to be reading this, or if they do, will just call me names!

    Still – we can only do what we can do.

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