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COMMENT: ‘Fireworks and phobias - our top tips for animal lovers’

Think of your dog during fireworks season Think of your dog during fireworks season

Sunday, October 20, 2013
1:00 PM

Wood Green, The Animals Charity, offers plenty of tips and sound advice for pet owners ahead of Fireworks Night

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"Pre-planning can help, and putting a few things into place now may help a lot in a few weeks on Bonfire Night."

Wood Green, The Animals Charity

Autumn is here again, and for a lot of us this means the start of festive fun. In our diverse culture many festivals start now and they continue through into the New Year celebrations. Great for us humans to brighten up dreary winter days and socialise with our friends; not so good for our furry companions!

Changes in our house and also our routines can make our pets feel anxious. Of course there is the additional stress of fireworks that often accompany our celebrations.

Phobias in our pets, of course, are not restricted to fireworks, as any loud, unexpected noise can cause fear.

Fearful reactions in our pets vary from shaking and hiding to pacing, salivation and affect on their appetite. In cats, stress can also cause urine-spraying problems in the house.

Wood Green, The Animals CharityWood Green, The Animals Charity

It is important that people and pet owners are aware of how much suffering can be caused to animals by the casual use of fireworks.

Every year, Wood Green urge animal lovers to help us spread the word and tell people what they can do to help their pets cope.

We’ve made a video, above, to give people an idea of what it feels like for an animal when something inexplicable happens that threatens their sense of well-being and security, like fireworks.

Desensitising CDs can work well for a variety of mild phobias, but do need to be used well in advance of the anticipated problem.

Think of your cat during fireworks seasonThink of your cat during fireworks season

Phobias can make you and your pet miserable, so here are a few tips that may help you get through the next few months.

Pre-planning can help, and putting a few things into place now may help a lot in a few weeks on Bonfire Night.

Preparing a safe place to hide can help your pet cope, so do this now so that your pet can get used to it. A den can easily be made up for dogs, using a large cardboard box or by covering a gap between furniture with blankets.

Putting in the usual bedding, a familiar toy and covering it with a blanket makes it feel more acceptable and safe.

Fireworks safety tips for dogsFireworks safety tips for dogs

The den should be in a room that the family spends time in, so the dog doesn’t feel excluded and the sound of normal conversation and the TV can also help block out sounds. Keep it away from windows where noises are louder and always make sure curtains are drawn. Make sure that dogs are exercised before dark.

Cats feel safer up high, so a box on top of a secure shelf or an igloo bed are ideal. Cats should be inside so they do not become frightened outside and run away from their normal territory and become lost or injured.

The use of sedatives is not recommended and they don’t stop the fear, just make it even scarier, as often the animal can hardly stand, but may still be fully aware of the fireworks around them!

Some alternatives which can help should be started a few weeks in advance of the anticipated stress.

Fireworks safety tips for catsFireworks safety tips for cats

Pheromones are a natural chemical produced by animals and synthetic copies of these have been proven to help reduce anxiety and fear.

These can be used in any time of stress such as moving house, a new baby or new animal in the house. Plug-in versions are available and are so easy to use. Adaptil is the dog-appeasing pheromone, and copies pheromones naturally released from a lactating bitch, which helps calm and comfort puppies. Adaptil is also available as a collar for dogs.

Feliway is the feline facial pheromone and helps your cat feel secure in their home, which is comforting to them. There are also nutraceuticals such as Calmex and Zylkene that can help provide a calming influence which can be given with food.

Adaptil and Feliway are both available from our centre in Lordship Lane, Wood Green. Your vet should also be able to supply Calmex and Zylkene, and Adaptil and Feliway.

So with a bit of extra support now we hope that you and your pet can enjoy all the fun and festivities to come!

For additional information please see the link to our website to the right of this blog.

(Haringey blogger: Wood Green, The Animals Charity)

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