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How to keep your dog or cat calm during fireworks

While many humans enjoy the fireworks on New Years Eve most pets have a much more uncomfortable experience. Dogs and cats heightened sense of hearing and the unexpected nature of fireworks can make many of our four-legged friends quite anxious on such occasions. Here’s some tips for helping reduce their anxiety and keeping them calm.

The obvious one – keep them away from fireworks

If you live near a planned fireworks event or are even planning on launching some fireworks in your backyard consider letting them stay elsewhere or at least moving them to a part of the house furthest away from the fireworks. Don’t take your dog on a walk when fireworks are around and get your pet microchipped so in the event they do escape it will be easier to track them down.

If you’re planning ahead try densensitisation

Systematic desensitisation – playing your dog a recording of fireworks at low volume and gradually increasing the volume of the recording over a period of days and weeks – can also help. Desensitisation familiarises your dog with the loud noises and can help them stay calm and collected when the real deal comes around. You can also build associations with positive things like treats at the same time.

Make them a safe space

Cats that are susceptible to fireworks (and other stress-inducing situations) are likely to batten down the hatches and make a dash for their ‘safe place’ so the first step in helping them through NYE is to familiarise yourself with this bolt-hole. Once you’ve identified their safe haven – be it under a bed, in a wardrobe, or behind a sofa  deck it out with comfy, familiar bedding that looks and feels cosy and protective. Warmth, elevation and security are the key elements to ensure your moggy makes it through the night with minimal distress.

Dogs tend to let their emotions hang out, growling and barking, trembling, pacing, and displaying a range of other symptoms associated readily associated with fear and panic.

But, while the canine stress response can differ markedly from that of cats, the first step in alleviating their distress is very similar: identify a zone in your home where they will be best-insulated from the sights and sounds of the fireworks. A room with small (or no) windows, double glazing and heavy curtains is an ideal spot or, better still, a basement. Furnish the space with a dog bed or crate that has nice high sides to help your pet feel sheltered from the storm, and fill it with familiar bedding so your dog feels cosy, comfortable and at home.

Distract and delight them

Giving pets what they love when they’re anxious will help improve their happiness and feelings of security as well as even distract them from the cause of their anxiety. Treats and favourite toys are great but don’t forget their number one favourite thing – you! Spending the night with your dog inside and giving them the occasional reassuring hug is often the greatest help.

Invest in a dog anxiety shirt or thunder jacket

An anxiety shirt reproduces the sensation of being cuddled or held tightly which dogs can find very reassuring and help keep them quiet and calm during fireworks. A few drops of Rescue Remedy, or even a pharmaceutical sedative can be an effective supplement to this type of device and there are even noise-cancelling headphones for dogs available.

Natural, calming herbs

Calming herbs like chamomile, passion flower, valerian and skullcap can be effective in modifying your dog’s mood, but you need to give these supplements time to kick-in so need to be given hours in advance.

There’s nothing harder for a pet owner than seeing their cat or dog in distress and feeling helpless to ease their pet’s fears, but the tips above should help your furry friends feel better during the festivities.

We endeavour to deliver the best information possible on natural health and diets for dogs and cats. Our articles involve contributions from senior veterinarians and are researched thoroughly. They remain the opinion of Vets All Natural however and we would always recommend seeking professional advice specific to your pet from a veterinarian. © Copyright 2015 Vets All Natural. All Rights Reserved

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