pets and fireworks
Firework season gets longer and longer every year and it is really important to remember our pets. If you think about fireworks they are pretty scary! Loud bands that occur late at night, without any pattern or rhythm to them, vibrations that you can feel through the floor and furniture, sudden bright lights and shadows and an odd burning smell in the air! If you have super senses like our pets you and you don't understand what is going on you can imagine how terrifying it can be.
Our pets are all individuals and because of that they all express their anxiety in different ways. Some pets make it very obvious that they are nervous, while others are much more subtle about how they display signs of stress.
These are the most common things that you may see your pet doing when they are nervous, some are things that you may not even realise are signs they are anxious!
Hiding behind furniture
Trying to run away
Toileting in the house
Digging or clawing at the floor and furniture
Restlessness – pacing around the room, panting even though it is not hot, seeming unable to choose a comfortable place to settle
Dogs can yawn (when they are not sleepy) and lick their nose and lips a lot
Cats can sit and over-groom themselves (this is where they focus on one particular area for a long time.)
Being aware of the issues that your pets may have with fireworks means that there are a few simple things that we can do to help them feel more relaxed.
1. Be prepared!
Most fireworks start at dusk or once the sun has gone down, so make sure that you walk your earlier in the day. Then make that all of our pets are safe inside, and that windows, doors and catflaps are closed to reduce the chance of your pet running off. When keeping cats inside it's important to remember the general rule for litter trays, which is to have one per cat plus one. It is also a good time of year to make sure your pets microchip details are up to date so that if they do escape and get confused outside they can be safely returned to you.
2. Stay calm!
Your pets will be much happier if they see you acting as normal as possible. They will also feel safer if you are around them, so take the opportunity to have some relaxing nights in with your pet! Draw the curtains, turn up the TV and radio, and put your feet up with a cup of tea for the night!
3. Create a safe place!
Building your pet a safe space or den in s a great way to help them feel protected. Choose somewhere they would normally feel comfortable, or even somewhere you have noticed they go to when they are nervous. You don't have to splash out on expensive cages or equipment – using existing furniture like your coffee table or behind a sofa with towels and blankets is just as effective. Put some old clothes in that smell of their favourite human, and even hide a few of their favourite treats or toys so they know this is their happy place.
4. Never punish your pets!
This time of year is hard on us, their owners, as well as your pets. Some of these behaviours – especially those that are destructive can be extremely frustrating. However, it is vitally important that we never punish our pets for any behaviour that they display. Your pets are confused and scared and whatever they are doing is in response to something they don't understand, so they will not understand why you are shouting at them and it may make their anxiety even worse.
We understand that while some pets will be much calmer with these simple changes others are much more upset by fireworks. For certain individuals we need to use medication to help them relax so it is always worth speaking to us if you feel that your pets need a little extra help.