Fireworks seem to happen more each year so from the end of October until New Year you are not safe from them suddenly being heard one evening

48860158 - beautiful firework display for celebration

Common signs of phobia and fear

  • Barking
  • Clingy behaviour
  • Hiding
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Trying to run away (especially when outside)
  • Pacing and restless
  • Panting
  • Refusing food
  • Urinating or defaecating in the house

What can you do?

Desensitisation

One of the best ways to improve you dog’s fear is to desensitise them to the noises but this takes time. Desensitisation is to gradually expose them to something (a noise) that is feared to make them less likely to feel anxiety or fearful.

You can do this by quietly and gradually playing the sounds in your house so they get used to hearing these noises and not reacting to them. This can be started with puppies during their essential socialisation period of 3-16 weeks old, as well as taking them out and about and exposing them to as many different things as possible.  Adult dogs will also benefit.  The Dog’s Trust website has different noises you can download along with advice.

This approach can also be used for less predictable things too, such as thunder storms.

Preparing your home: the Den

Dogs do not understand that the loud weird and wonderful noises made by fireworks cannot harm them inside the house. They often like to have somewhere to hide – we can help them with this by building a den!  If your dog already has somewhere to hide you can add their own blankets and cover over the area to make it feel even safer and snug.  If not, you can build your own den a couple of weeks in advance so they get used to snuggling up inside using a covered crate or large box as a starter.

Example of a den

Example of a den

Other tips in the home:

  • Remember to keep the television or radio on so they hear less firework noise
  • Close curtains, windows and doors to reduce noise and so they cannot see the flashing lights
  • Make sure they cannot escape and run away in fright
  • Give your dog distractions, such as toys to play with
  • Try to stay calm and as “normal” as possible yourself try not to cuddle or comfort your dog as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour

Pheromones

Pheromones are natural chemicals produced and secreted by different species used to communicate between animals of the same species. Humans cannot smell or detect cat or dog pheromones.  For example, when you see a cat rubbing their face along objects they are secreting their Facial Pheromone onto these things but it cannot be detected by their owners.

Adaptil contains a synthetic copy of the dog pheromone “Dog Appeasing Pheromone” that bitches produce to reassure their puppies. It has been proven that this pheromone reassures adults as well as puppies in challenging situations.  If possible, it is useful to plug in an Adaptil Diffuser (which looks similar to an air freshener but as previously mentioned with no smell detectable by humans) or fit an Adaptil Collar 1-2 weeks before any fireworks begin, to create a calm environment in your home to support your dog with firework anxiety.  More information on Adaptil and how it works can be found on the Adaptil Website.

Tablets or capsules

Adaptil Tablets are a natural non-pheromone calming tool to be used for short term stressful events when a fast action is needed – so if you have forgotten to plug in a pheromone diffuser these are for you. They can also be used with the pheromone products and can be given as little as 2 hours before the required effect.  They can facilitate relaxation and have been proven to quickly help improve the signs of fear.

Zylkene Capsules contain a natural product derived from a protein in milk called casein, which is well known to help the relaxation of babies after breastfeeding. The formulation allows adults to use this product in the same way to help them cope with unusual or stressful situations.  Because they are derived from milk means that they are very palatable and therefore are usually easy to give by opening up to capsule and mixing the powder with food or a treat.  Zylkene capsules should be started approx. 1-5 days before the predicted event or change in environment.  Find more information on the Zylkene website.

Cats

Cats often do not show fear behaviour in the same ways as dogs but can still get spooked by the loud noises so it is advisable to keep them indoors. You can use a Feliway Diffuser to make them feel calmer and content.  If they are particularly worried Zylkene capsules can be used for cats as well and are usually taken well with the powder  mixed into the food.

For any more information or to discuss your pets individual needs please don’t hesitate to contact the surgery before it’s too late!

Malvern on 01684 572420