As I have written about on this blog before, the fireworks season around October and November can be extremely stressful for pets. Much as we may enjoy the spectacular fireworks displays, the flashes and bangs can cause a huge amount of anxiety for a confused pet.
With fireworks night just around the corner, you may have already started preparations, but if not then this is the ideal time to get yourself ready.
Common signs of stress
Whilst some animals may react well to the unexpected sights and sounds of a fireworks display, it is important to understand the signs or stress which your pet may display.
For dogs, this can be seen by excessive barking as well as shaking, panting, and drooling more than usual. They may also try to hide away, behave in a withdrawn manor, or start under eating.
Some similar behaviours can be seen in stressed cats, with excessive vocalisation, over grooming, as well as attempting to hide away or refuse food. You may also become aware of your cat urinating outside of their litter box.
The best steps to take
There are several steps which you can take to ease the stress of an anxious pet. One of the most effective techniques to use is creating a comfortable safe space for you animal, in which they can hide.
For cats this could be somewhere up high, and for a dog somewhere low to the ground. Ideally, these should be prepared in advance so that your pet can get used to where they are and learn that they are safe.
Make sure that your pet has enough room to stand and turn around in the safe space, and provide toys, blankets and other items which carry their familiar scent.
On the night of a known display, and on November the 5th itself, it is a good idea to walk your dog before it gets dark. Also, ensure your cat is in before dark, and consider bringing in any pets you have living outside, such as rabbits or guinea pigs.
Once your pets are safely inside, close all windows, curtains and blinds, then turn on the television or radio to help muffle the sounds from outside. Make sure they have access to their safe space, but it is also important to remain present and calm yourself. It is likely that your pet will want to remain close to you, but it is also best to respect their decision if they would rather hide away.
Ignore any unusual behaviours, such as shaking and whining, as this will reinforce the behaviour. Instead provide plenty of distractions with treats, toys and games to help get you through he night.
If you are worried about your pet’s behaviour either before or after bonfire night then please feel free to get in touch. I am happy to discuss best practices, options for calming products, and even desensitisation programs if your pet is particularly troubled by these issues.