As the nights get longer it is important we start to prepare our pets for the season ahead. Fireworks will soon be available in the shops, and will start being set off from the end of October through till January.
Animals often find fireworks distressing due to their unpredictable nature. It is important to begin introducing the sounds of fireworks from an early age. Sound tracks can be purchased online, or via an app. Start by playing the sounds in the background on a low volume and carry on daily activities as normal. Increase the volume gradually and reward for good behaviour. Do not scold or punish fear type behaviour.
Set up a “den” area so that if your pet is feeling anxious, they have somewhere to feel safe. Try to set this area up far in advance so they can get used to it. A crate in a low traffic area of the room works quite well. Try to cover the top and sides with a blanket, leaving the door open at all times. Place in some soft padded bedding and toys. Spray the area with pet remedy or plug in a diffuser such as pet remedy/adaptil or feliway. Encourage your pet to use the area by giving treats, or initially feeding them in there. Do not leave them locked in for a length of time, this can begin a negative association.
For cats you can set up a small crate or use their carrier as a safe basket (take the door off or leave it wide open). You can also place cat-igloo structures around the house.
Exercise your pet before it gets dark and fireworks start. Keep cats indoors during event nights and provide litter trays in different areas. For animals housed outdoors such as rabbits and guniea pigs, set up pens indoors or in a garage/shed. Provide wooden hiding boxes, with plenty of extra bedding as nesting material. Spray a blanket with pet remedy and place near.
Carry on normal behaviour in the house i.e watching television, listening to music. Keep calm, your animals are likely to pick up your anxiety if you become anxious. Do not scold or pander excessively to anxious behaviour as this may reinforce their fear.
You can also try supplements such as zylkene or yucalm for mild to moderate fear. These will ideally be started a few weeks in advance in order to take effect, and then carried on throughout the season. Proper planning is key. There are some very effective prescription medications, such as Sileo, for more severe cases of noise phobia. A consultation with your vet will be needed in order to discuss what medication might be most appropriate for your pet.