Preparing Your Pet For Fireworks
Preparing Your Pet For Fireworks
By: Gemma Baines
While a dazzling firework display might be an exhilarating experience for us, for our pets it can be a very different story. Research shows that more pets run away from home on the 4th July than any other day of the year. No matter how great the display is, nothing can alleviate the the guilt or grief of losing a pet because basic considerations weren't given to them on those select nights of the year when fireworks are likely to be going off. So if you want to enjoy a guilt-free night of rockets, sparklers and wheels then here are some ways to ensure that all members of the family (including the furry ones) are safe, happy and well cared for.
Prepare in advance
If your pet suffers with extreme trauma during fireworks then speak to your vet about the best type of sedative or calming treatment for them – this is particularly important if they are currently taking any other medication. On the day of the fireworks, ensure that animals are walked and fed long before the fireworks start and for animals who suffer badly then consider asking a trusted friend, family member or even day-care center to take care of them while you attend the display – animals can become even more stressed when left alone. Some animal experts even suggest playing CD's of loud noises in the run up to the firework occasions in order to acclimatize the animals to the sudden bangs and crackles.
Keep them secure
Like humans, if your animal senses a threat or trauma their natural reaction is usually to flee. This is why it is so important to keep them secure by making sure all windows and doors are shut and locked. Dogs may appreciate some sort of kennel, hiding place or 'safe' room to retreat to. If your dog or cat isn't already micro chipped with an identification tag then try and get it done in the run up to any big firework occasion. While every attempt can be made not to let them escape, studies do show that rescue centres experience an influx of animals after firework events and cats in particular can be very clever when it comes to finding escape routes in stressful situations.
Keep them calm
If your animal suffers particularly badly from trauma during fireworks then speak to your vet about the best ways to keep them calm. One suggestion may be a plug-in pheromone diffuser – different varieties are available for both dogs and cats and they work by emitting a calming substance into the air. For older animals or those at higher risk of stress related health problems it may be worth asking your vet to prescribe a mild sedative to help them sleep through the worse of the noise.
Consider behavioral therapy
Ultimately, training your dog out of their fear of fireworks and loud noises is the the best option for everyone. Of course the training process will take time but it could mean that future firework occasions are a lot less stressful for both you and your pet. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best suited training method for you. Some may involve tuition from a professional trainer but many behavioral therapy courses can be carried out by yourself at home. As previously mentioned, training may involve playing recorded, loud noises around your dog to demonstrate that they aren't harmful. It also focuses on your reaction to your dog when they are scared – for example we tend to fuss and comfort them when they show distress which gives them the message that their fear is justified. Carrying on with your life and being dismissive of their fear reinforces the message that they are not in any danger.
Don't forget the little ones
While we tend to focus our attention on jittery cats or fretful dogs during fireworks, it's important not to forget the little fur babies too. Burrowing animals such as rabbits, hamsters or Guinea pigs may feel safer if they are able to tunnel themselves away so make sure they have lots of bedding in their cages. If they are based outside then consider soundproofing their hutch by using thick blankets but don't forget to leave them some open space for ventilation as well.
All in all, with a little preparation, a fireworks show can be a positive experience for everyone in the family!