It’s Halloween today, and the peak of the fireworks season is upon us in Ireland. It’s estimated that around 50% of pets are upset by the loud squeals and bangs of fireworks. Pets have much more sensitive hearing than humans, and they cannot rationalise what is going on (they don’t know it’s Halloween).
Sedatives are an old fashioned answer, but they often do not work very well. They’re best reserved for emergencies when other methods have not worked: talk to your vet to find out what’s the best one for your pet. There are a number of “natural” sedatives that are now available, such as herbal or homoeopathic products. Their efficacy is difficult to assess, but they do perhaps play a role in providing part of a patchwork approach to dealing with the problem.
Getting used to noise
The best long term approach is to get pets used to fireworks-type noises using specially designed CD’s with soundtrack of fireworks – these cost around €20 and are available online. It’s too late for this now, but if your pet is suffering now, you should consider these for next year, starting in the spring.
It’s worth using an Adaptil diffuser or collar – this produces calming pheromones that make dogs feel less stressed. These are available from vets as well as online.
Another alternative is a tightly fitting coat for dogs, known as a Thundershirt. This seems to reassure dogs, giving them a sense that they are being reassuringly cuddled.
Tips for getting pets through the fireworks season
- Keep pets indoors and make sure you provide as calm an environment as possible
- Avoid comforting pets because they will are rewarding them for acting scared, which will make them worse. Instead, praise and reward your pet if they are being calm.
- Ensure pets are wearing ID tags and are microchipped in case they escape.
- Draw the curtains and if pets are used to sounds from the TV or radio, switch them on (not too loudly).
- Rabbits or small animals kept outside should be brought indoors, or make sure their hutch is turned to face the wall.
- Try not to leave your pet alone if they are stressed at fireworks time. If you do go out try not to be annoyed with them if they have been destructive. Telling off a scared animal will just make them much worse.
- Create a safe den away from fireworks noises
- Use an Adaptil plug-in diffuser or collar with calming pheromones
- Use fireworks sound tracks in advance of noisy times
- If your pet is prone to panic, ask your vet for short term sedatives