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Emergency appointments: 01383 722818

Fireworks season

We are approaching that time of year which is daunting to many dog and cat owners. It is believed that up to 50% of dogs have a sound sensitivity and fireworks are thought to be the most common triggers to a fear response.

Fear responses are different for every animal and can often be subtle; left unmanaged, the reactive behaviour displayed by your cat or dog may have a cumulative effect over time.

This is why it’s so important to understand signs of fear and how to manage these fears both short and long term. Some common fear related behaviours include:

  • shaking and trembling
  • avoidance
  • pacing
  • panting
  • destruction
  • vocalisation
  • cowering body position

This is not an exhaustive list and each animal will react differently so anything that is an abnormal behaviour should be noted.

Free nurse clinics

We are planning ahead as we know the sooner you address your pets fears, the less of an issue fireworks become. We are offering free nurse clinics in the run up to fireworks season. There are several options available to your pet to help control the fear of fireworks and these will depend on the severity of the fear itself. Most of the products must be started in advance of any firework displays, and we recommend you so call us as soon as possible to book an appointment. During the appointment the nurse will fill out a questionnaire and discuss suitable options with you.

Management during firework season

As well as using medication to help reduce the fear response there are lots of ways you can manage your pets fear at home. These include:

  • If possible, try to ensure that someone is home with your pets during the firework season.
  • Avoid letting your cat out at night and avoid walking your dog when it becomes dark. If you must let your dog outside, then please make sure that they are kept on the lead and that their microchip and collar is up to date.
  • Close all windows and curtains/blinds. Play music or television that they are used to at a level that helps to drown out the noise of the fireworks.
  • Provide a den or hiding place for your pet, watch this YouTube video for some tips.
  • If your dog/cat already has a hiding place then this space can be used and adding blankets or your clothing may help to make them feel more secure. 
  • If you are going to make a hiding place from scratch try, to do this a few weeks in advance, so they know this is a safe place.

Although this can be a very stressful time, it’s important to try and act as normal as possible. If you’re anxious and worried, then your pet will pick up on this and it may make them worse. Try to act as normal as possible. If they are hiding behind sofas or in their den, it’s best to leave them alone. You can also try playing with their favourite toy or favourite game or using teat toys to try and distract them from the noise.

DO NOT punish your pet! This will only make your pet more distressed.

A long-term solution

In the long term your pet needs to learn to be less afraid of loud noises. With proper treatment this is possible so that the next fireworks season will be less stressful for both of you! Sound desensitisation programmes are a proven way of managing sound-related unusual behaviours in dogs and cats. The process involves exposing the pet to various loud noises in a controlled way. The process of desensitisation can vary from a few weeks to several months and has proved to be successful in helping pets become less sensitive to sounds and noise such as fireworks.

If you’d like to take the next step in helping your pet prepare for the fireworks season, please make an appointment with one of our skilled veterinary nurses to discuss the desensitisation programme.

*If your pet's condition is particularly severe, we recommend you see one of our vets who will be able to prescribe appropriate medication.*