It’s quickly come around to that time of year again, where the evenings are starting to come in earlier and temperatures are starting to cool. This also means that it’s nearly time for fireworks season to start again, which is great viewing for us, but not always such a great time for our pets.
Cats, dogs and rabbits in particular can all suffer from anxiety and noise phobia to varying degrees, becoming stressed and acting out of character when the fireworks begin. Both the sound and sights can be distressing, but there are a few things we can be doing to try and help ease the worry.
Making a den for your pets to hide away in gives them a safe space to take themselves away to as and when they feel they need to. This can be as simple as a large table cloth or blanket over a table or covering three sides of their crate. We as owners also need to actively play a part in keeping them calm, making sure not to act any differently ourselves. Comforting pets too much can reinforce the idea that they have something to be worried about, and scolding them for undesirable behaviour can also make the anxiety worse, so acting as if all is normal is best. Playing with pets with toys can help to create a positive experience for them, and provide a distraction too.
Closing the curtains and having the television/radio on can help, as it reduces the sight of the flashes and sounds of the bangs. Keeping lights on helps to minimise the effects of the flashes too. Avoid walking dogs at times where fireworks are going off, morning and mid-afternoon walks are best. A long walk in the afternoon also helps to burn energy, which can sometimes help dogs to feel more settled in the evening.
Keeping cats in and locking the cat flap ensures they won’t be caught outside during displays, but make sure a litter tray is available by their normal exit so they can go to the toilet easily. Rabbits and small furry animals should either be brought inside in their hutches, or moved into a shed or covered area. There are also many over the counter products available, from calming capsules and tablets through to pheromones that can be used to naturally help calm pets in stressful situations. In extreme anxiety cases, a consultation with a veterinary surgeon may be necessary, where prescription medication can be discussed.