How to Stop Your Pet Getting into a Frenzy with Fireworks
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How to Stop Your Pet Getting into a Frenzy with Fireworks

Pet Psychology

Most of us will probably be looking forward to the odd fireworks and bonfire night party on November 5. Not so our pets.

Not only do our cats, dogs, rabbits and gerbils etc not appreciate the significance of the event, but they’ll hate the noise of the rockets and Catherine wheels too. That’s because their hearing is much more acute than ours, meaning all those bangs and claps are amplified to them. In fact the noise could even cause their ears to hurt. And that’s why we’ve come up with the following article to help you help your furry loved ones on fireworks night:

Guides for helping cats and dogs cope with fireworks

Woofering Heights and Peer Window are two fun videos which have a very series intent. They’re designed to be played during fireworks going off in order to help calm your pets. Actor and former Dr Who David Tenant narrates both tales in a soothing voice.

Dog video Woofering Heights features shots of forests and slow moving countryside in blue and yellow (the colours dogs see). In it Tenant repeats the phrases ‘good boy’ and ‘walkies.’ In Peer Window a tank of slowly swimming fish can be seen, together with rustling leaves and rain drops. The ‘action’ is to a soundtrack of occasional purring and relaxed music.

Both videos, commissioned by insurance company More Than, are based on scientific research carried out by animal behaviourist Karen Wild and vet Robert White-Adams.

Sounds Scary is a downloadable sound recording with an easy-to-follow instruction pack from the RSPCA and Dogs Trust. Compiled with the help of vets and pet behaviourists Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen, the recordings are a collection of noises for puppies which should help them get used to loud and sudden noises like fireworks by the time they reach adulthood. Scary sounds include hoovers, thunder, loud traffic and fireworks.

Keeping cats safe on November 5

If your cat uses a cat flap to get in and out the house then lock it, and make sure the kids keep the doors and windows closed too. That’s because a sudden crash or whoosh could make your moggie bolt for the hills. And on that note, this is a great incentive for finally getting him or her microchipped. That way if your feline friend does scarper then at least you have a good chance of getting him or her back to the bosom of the family.

Don’t let your dog suffer on November 5

It’s a good idea to take your dog for a long walk in the afternoon - such a long walk, in fact, that he or she is so knackered afterwards that they’ll want to sleep and rest during the evening (we owners of young collies can but hope!).

If he or she hasn’t already, make sure your dog has a calm place to go to. This should be a place where there is toys and chews and he or she tends not to get disturbed. In other words, it’s their ‘corner’ where they feel safe and happy. Hopefully this is where he or she will head to if they become increasingly agitated with all the noise going on.

Prior to the fireworks kicking off, head for a quiet room in the house, such as a bedroom, and play with him or her. That way they will hopefully be so focused on the game that the fireworks won’t have such an all-encompassing effect.

How to tell if your dog is stressed. You may think your canine companion is cool with the noise of fireworks because they’re not whimpering, meowing or trying to hide under the couch or bed. But actually there are other less extreme symptoms of fear and stress your pet could be suffering from. If your dog is panting a lot or repeatedly yawning then he or she is probably stressed.

General fireworks tips for cats and dogs

Closing the curtains and putting on some music can go at least some way to muffling out all those whiz bang sounds outside.

These days its possible to buy pheromone diffusers from pet shops or online. These can help some cats and dogs to relax but they should be plugged in 48 hours before the firework activities begin.

See that your small critters are safe on November 5

Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, birds - if your pet lives in a cage - especially one out in the garden, then cover the cage with plenty of thick blankets or even a duvet so that you can dull most of the noise. You could also supply extra straw, cotton wool or whatever your use as bedding so that they can make themselves from a bolthole from it when it all starts to get too much. Try turning the hutch towards the fence rather than outwards into the garden too.

If your animals are still freaking out after half an hour or so you could try bringing them indoors (although vets suggest doing this a few times before fireworks night so that they get used to the indoors environment). A garden shed or garage is another good shelter during this period.

Hold on to your horses on fireworks night

Obviously fireworks shouldn’t be set off in a field or park where there are horses nearby - regardless of whether they’re outside or in stables at the time.

If you can hear noises - and therefore your horses or ponies can too - then make sure they feel secure in their environment by making it a familiar one. That means if they’re used to being in a field at night don’t suddenly lock them up in stables. Also, never ride your horse if there’s any possibility at all of someone setting off fireworks in the vicinity.

We hope the above tips helped reassure you in some way that it is possible to keep your pet comfortable and feeling secure when fireworks go off. Incidentally, if they keep going off long after November 5 then it might help you to know that retailers may only sell fireworks from October 15 to November 10 and December 26 to 31.

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