Ok so the title of this blog may sound a little dramatic, but it is really important to remember our pets during firework season. If you think about fireworks; strange loud bangs that occur normally late at night, without any pattern or rhythm to them, they can be so loud you feel the vibrations through the floor and furniture, sudden bright lights and shadows that are created with an odd burning smell in the air – they are pretty scary, especially if you don't understand what is going on! I was terrified of fireworks as a child and so it's totally understandable when our pets, who have super senses feel the same!
Just like us, the way that pets shows they are scared can vary between individuals. Some are very open about how they express phobias, others are not. Below are the most commons things you may see your pet doing when they are nervous – some are things that you may not even realise are signs they are anxious!
Cowering or hiding behind furniture
Trying to run away
Going to the toilet in the house
Barking non stop
Digging or clawing at the floor and furniture
Appearing restless – 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 groom themselves for a long time, focusing on one area in particular
So, what can we do to help our furry friends enjoy the celebrations as much as we do?
1. Prepare don't scare!
Most of the time fireworks start at dusk or once the sun has gone down so try and walk your dog earlier in the day before they are likely to start. Then make sure that all of your pets are inside, and that window, doors and catflaps are closed to reduce the chance of your pets running off. Remember our general rule for litter trays with cats is to have one per cat plus one! So make sure you have enough if you are having to keep them inside.
2. Distract and relax!
There are some really simple things that can be done to help calm your pets. One of the easiest things to do is to shut all the curtains and turn on the TV or radio. This will help dull the noise of the fireworks and help keep things as normal as possible for your pets. Also take the opportunity to have some relaxing nights in with your pets! They will feel much happier if they can see your smiling face, especially if you are acting as normal as possible – so take this opportunity to put your feet up with a cup of tea and your favourite box set for the night!
3. Food for fort!
Building your pet a safe space or den/fort is a great way to help them feel protected and safe. Pick a place they would choose to go to – you can use existing furniture like behind your sofa or under a coffee table. Cover the area with a blanket to make it more snuggly and put in some clothes that smell of your pets favourite human so they feel relaxed in there. Its also worth hiding a few of their favourite toys or treats to give them a distraction when they are in there and make it a really happy place for them! Remember your feline friends often like to have their hiding places up high – so on top of wardrobes or cupboards makes great places for them.
4. And finally hold don't scold!
It is a myth that comforting your pet will make them worse. If they feel better being close to you then let them sit close to you, but if they would rather be in another area of the house let them go there. Most importantly never punish any behaviour 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. Our number is 0203 603 4441.