BONFIRE Night may be fun for humans, but many pets become stressed and fearful while fireworks are going off, because of their fear of loud noises.
Veterinary practice staff can help prevent this by offering advice to their clients on preparations they can carry out in the runup to the festivities to ensure that the experience is as stress free as possible for both pets and their owners.
This guidance can range from creating comforting dens for dogs, to advising that pets are microchipped to help ensure their safe return should they run off. It is important to offer targeted advice to both cat and dog owners as the species can behave very differently in stressful situations.
Comforting dens and boltholes
It is advisable that pet owners create comforting dens for their dogs and encourage their dogs to use them by leaving healthy food treats or toys there. These dens can consist of enclosed beds or baskets and can be enhanced by plugging a DAP Diffuser close by.
Switching the diffuser on around a week before Bonfire Night will allow the pheromone to build up to significant levels and ensure pets are as relaxed as possible before, during and after the firework season. DAP Spray can be used to give additional support on the night of the event.
Most cats voluntarily stay indoors while fireworks are going off. Pet owners should encourage this behaviour and make sure that cats can access their favourite boltholes, which may often be up high, for example on top of cupboards.
Plugging a Feliway Diffuser in the room where the cat spends most of its time, 48 hours before the festivities, will also help increase its sense of security.
All access points, such as doors, windows and cat flaps should be secured on the evenings when fireworks are expected and cats and dogs should be kept safely indoors. Remember, a Feliway Diffuser can be used in multi-cat households to help prevent inter-cat tension, which is often experienced when cats are shut in together overnight.
Dogs should be walked before nightfall and cats should be provided with litter trays both before and during the festivities to prevent any accidents.
Owners should ignore any fearful behaviour. Dogs can pick up on anxiety and this often makes them worse. If cats start fretting they should not be picked up or restrained as fearful cats prefer to be left to cope on their own.
However pets behave while fireworks go off, they should not be punished as this only confirms that there is something to be afraid of which may lead to more fretful behaviour in the future.
Masking the noise
It is advisable that pet owners should draw their curtains and play music or turn the TV on to help mask the noise of fireworks going off.
Staying in while they are going off will also help comfort pets, as seeing owners acting normally will help them feel more settled.
Frightened, confused animals can easily get lost and, if they do escape, microchipped pets are more likely to be reunited with their owners.
It is therefore advisable to encourage owners to get their pets microchipped in the run-up to Bonfire Night.
After the event
If pets are taking a long time to recover from the fireworks, they may need to be referred to a qualified behaviour counsellor for advice on a desensitisation programme. Log on to www.apbc.org.uk for details of qualified behaviour counsellors in your area.
Ceva Animal Health, manufacturer of DAP and Feliway, has joined forces with the PDSA, Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB), the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) and Sound Therapy 4 Pets to launch a “Remember, remember your pets this November” campaign.
The initiative will provide owners with hints and tips on how to look after their pets during the firework season and highlight the precautions that can be taken to help them cope with their fear of loud noises.
A “Promote Your Practice” information pack is now available to provide veterinary practices with marketing and PR material to boost the practice profile amongst pet owners and encourage them to seek advice on firework fear in the run-up to Bonfire Night.
Veterinary practices can get involved by:
- utilising the PR toolkit which is downloadable from the website – www.petfireworkfear.co.uk – and issuing press information to local media;
- decorating the waiting room and window with Ceva’s double-sided firework display materials;
- ensuring that firework leaflets are on hand to raise awareness of the preparations that can be put in place in the run-up to Bonfire Night;
- talking to clients about the firework festivities and offering advice and demonstrations on products such as DAP and Feliway;
- putting up firework posters around the neighbourhood to help highlight the initiative;
- creating a children’s colouring area in the waiting room with the firework colouring sheets and some crayons – the colouring sheets can also be distributed to local schools and children’s organisations.
For further information on the initiative, contact your Ceva territory manager or visit www.petfireworkfear.co.uk, or request a “Promote Your Practice” information pack by calling 01494781510.