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Fireworks and Pets: Help Keep them Safe



It will soon be the time of year when many people will enjoy the tradition of celebrating Halloween and November 5th with bonfires and fireworks. It is also the time of the year that many pet owners dread as many dogs and cats are very scared and anxious about loud noises. Add to this flashing lights and scary costumes and they can become terrified and very distressed.

If you are intending to hold a private display, then it is very helpful to try and stick to the traditional date of November 5th (or New Year’s eve when this comes) as pet owners will be anticipating noise on these dates. If you are intending to set off fireworks at other times, then informing your neighbours of your intent will at least give them some warning so they can keep their pets indoors.

If you have an anxious pet, then the following advice will be helpful:

Make sure your dog or cat is kept indoors and the environment is safe and secure.

Make sure they have somewhere to hide in the house, such as a den, their favourite crate or cage. For cats allow them to hide wherever they feel safe. This might be under a bed or in a wardrobe – it will generally be a small and dark place.

Do not try to tempt your pet out of their hiding places as this will make them more anxious.

Make sure your pets are microchipped so that if they do escape and run away they can be reunited with you quickly.

Walk your dog early and then close any curtains and play music to muffle any noise. Provide toys and stuffed Kong’s or chews for distraction.

Make sure cat flaps are locked and secured to prevent escape.

Try to act normally and do not get stressed or anxious yourself as your pet will pick up on this and feel worse.

If you plan ahead there are many things we can do to help animals cope with the distress of fireworks.

We prefer to use natural methods if possible but these take time to work and so putting a plan in place before anticipating a problem is best.

Please come and talk to our vets and nurses now about possible solutions – these may include herbal remedies, diffusers, collars impregnated with calming products, clothing such as ‘thunder shirts’ which can be used to ‘wrap’ your pet, or in extreme cases medications to help reduce anxiety.

We have recently installed atomisers in both of our practices which release a mixture of Valerian, Vetiver, Clary Sage and Sweet Basil into the atmosphere in the waiting room. These essential oils have been shown to mimic GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) the chemical associated with the animal’s own natural calming mechanisms.  This could be useful at home as the atomiser can be set to release the oils at set intervals chosen by you which will help if you are not able to be at home.


Lisa Phillips