With Firework season soon to be upon us, now is a good time to start putting in some groundwork to prepare your pet for November 5th. It may seem like an odd thing to be doing so far away from Bonfire night but preparation is paramount and some of the tips below may help minimise the stress level in your pet.
There are various ways you can help your pet prepare for what may be a very stressful evening. Your pet will need to become accustomed to the methods you choose to use, however plugging in a diffuser on the night to help calm your pet may have little or no effect. Therefore preparation is key!
If your pet hasn’t been exposed to loud noises before you can look at a variety of ways to help reduce the level of stress they may feel over the coming weeks.
- You can purchase noise CD’s that help your dog become use to the sounds they may experience. Introduce this to your pet over a number of evenings increasing the volume each time.
- Practice distraction games and try to associate loud noises with a game or a tasty reward. This will help on the night with diverting your pets attention away from any bangs or flashes.
- Consider walking your dog during daylight or dusk as there will be less chance of bangs going off nearer to bonfire night.
- Make sure they always wear a collar with a tag or a reflective collar/ coat if you are taking them out in case they become loose and run off.
- Think about your normal routine, it may be worth starting to feed your dog slightly earlier than usual so when you take your dog for a walk they have the option of going to the loo and reduce the risk of accidents in the house.
- Speak to your vet about holistic remedies or natural methods to help relax your pet. There is a wide variety of homeopathic remedies on the market such as valerian, borax etc… please always consult your vet first.
- If you have rabbits or small animals you may want to consider relocating them to a garage or inside building for a week either side the 5th give them extra bedding they can snuggle into and hide away.
On the Night
Try not to leave you pet alone, if they become stressed they could panic and injure themselves. If you think the noise may be very loud consider visiting friends in a quieter location.
- Feed them a high carbohydrate meal, pasta or rice along with some meat. Tryptophan is found in turkey and fish and will help make your pet feel sleepy. A similar feeling to us having a large roast.
- Take them for a walk and toilet break before dark.
- Close the curtains and if you need to, add extra blankets or towels to block out the possibility of flashes.
- Ensure all escape routes are secure. If you are expecting visitors ensure your pet will not make a bolt for the open door.
- Perhaps put the TV on slightly louder than normal but not too uncomfortable for your dog (or the neighbours!)
- Create a safe place or den for them to retreat to if they are feeling worried or anxious.
If your dog becomes clingy or follows you around, this is completely normal for the time of year. If your pet jumps on the sofa or tries to get on your lap it is perfectly ok to offer them slow strokes or put an arm around to comfort hug them.
Ideas to relax your pet
- If your pet enjoys relaxing in a crate, cover the top and 3 sides with blankets to create a dark area.
- Studies show that chewing releases endorphins, prepare some stuffed marrow bones or fill a KONG with a tasty snack, this will keep your pet occupied whilst releasing endorphins into the body calming your pet.
- Use distraction games and praise, reward your pet if they become engaged with you and are not fussed with the noises.
- Use simple relaxing strokes like the TTouch Ear Stroke can calm your pet (youtube video below)
- You can also purchase a Thundershirt which give a gentle constant pressure (like a big hug) that will help reduce anxieties in your pet*.
*Based on surveys completed by more than 2000 customers, over 80% of dogs showed improvement in symptoms when using the Thundershirt. (Source: Pets at Home)
If you have children in the home, please remind them that the pet may be stressed and hiding, so it is best to leave them be for the evening.
Remember… try to act as you normally would, just relax! Don’t react to any noises or bangs, your pet will pick up on your actions and this may contribute to their anxieties.
For more information please contact the shelter on 01242 523521.
If you wish to learn more about TTouch please contact Toni Shelbourne, TTouch Practitioner who has also co-written a book called “Help my dog’s scared of Fireworks” with Karen Bush, now available on Amazon.