Fireworks – not much fun for many pets

Fireworks time will soon be upon us, and many of our pets will be affected by the unpredictable loud noises.

Sound fears are a very common problem. Many cats and just under half of the UK dog population shows a fearful response to loud noises.

Pets can show varied stress reactions to firework noise. They can withdraw into themselves and hide, soil in the house and sometimes even harm themselves whilst tryin to escape from the noise.

So what can you do if your pet is affected?

First of all, speak to your practice. We can give you good advice regarding how to cope on the night. For example how to react yourself and where to prepare a ‘den’ for your pet to hide in.

We can also advise whether your pet would benefit from taking something, and recommend a product which suits your pet. Some animals will need prescription medications but there are other options to consider.

One such option is Zylkene. Zylkene is a natural product derived from cow’s milk and can help support your pet in many common situations such as a house move or kennel/cattery stay. It can also help dogs and cats cope with fireworks season. Zylkene has not been associated with side effects such as memory loss and sedation.

It is also very easy to give – simply mix the palatable powder with food or a favourite treat.

The manufacturers also provide free information leaflets, giving practical advice and techniques to help pets cope throughout this stressful time.

Once fireworks season is passed, it’s time to think about long-term control of the problem. Fear of fireworks tends to get worse over time and can expand to include fear of other loud noises, such as thunder is ignored.

Sound desensitisation has shown to be a very effective way of managing the problem long term. It involves exposing the animal to firework noises in a controlled way however it must not be done during firework season.

The manufacturers of Zylkene have worked with the Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group at the University of Bristol to produce the Zylkene Sound Desensitisation Programme to help owners find a long-term solution to this distressing problem. The programme includes clear written and verbal instructions and a practice track to help you get started and use the programme effectively. Uniquely, it includes component sounds, as breaking into components avoids overwhelming very sensitive pets. The CD contains tracks of common scary sounds – fireworks, thunder and lightning and gunshots.

For more information of this CD or to obtain a copy please ask at Reception.

Key Points to remember for Fireworks night:

  1. Provide your pet with a den or hiding place.
  2. Muffle the sounds of fireworks with the use of TV or radio.
  3. Keep pets inside.
  4. Stay calm and don’t over fuse your pet when they react.
  5. Don’t get angry with your pet.
  6. Discuss the problem with your vet.

By considering both the short and long-term aspects of managing this common problem, you and your pet should have a stress free fireworks season for many years to come.

Simon Robinson