Fireworks advice

The fireworks season is nearly here and although this is an exciting time of year for us, the same cannot be said for our pets. As many as 40% of cats and dogs find the unpredictable noise and flashes created by fireworks frightening and very stressful, potentially putting their safety at risk.

What can I do at home?

•  Make sure all dogs and cats are kept inside after dark; plan dog walks accordingly and lock cat flaps. Check that fences and gates remain secure after periods of bad weather and high winds. Now is a good time to check that microchip details and collars and tags are up to date, should the worst happen and your pet be spooked into running away.

•  Keep curtains drawn and turn up the TV or radio. This will help block out some of the sound and visual effects.

•  Get creative with blankets and bedding to make a safe den. Our dogs like to hide away in small dark places to help make themselves feel more secure. Place in their favourite toys and something of yours; the familiar smells will help them feel a little more at ease. Cats may be more comfortable in a high up spot.

•  Try to act normally. If they want to pace around a little and find new hiding spots, let them. If you are relaxed it will help them feel relaxed too. If they’re up for a treat and a game, engage them with some play and ‘brain games’ as a distraction.

What else can I try?

There are lots of products on the market designed to help calm and relieve anxiety – speak to your vet or veterinary nurse about plug-in pheromone diffusers or sprays and natural calming capsules or chews. These should be started in the weeks leading up to the fireworks season and are suitable to continue right through until New Year. Remember, members of our Healthy Pet Club benefit from 10% off these products.

What about medication?

Sometimes these general precautions aren’t enough for the most nervous and noise-sensitive animals and in these cases it may be appropriate to seek a veterinary consultation for prescription medications. These are best used alongside a structured noise-desensitisation program - we can help you with this!

Look out for wildlife too

Lastly, please spare a thought for our wildlife this firework season. If you’re building bonfires, don’t leave them constructed for long and check them before lighting to make sure no little friends are hibernating inside. Dispose responsibly of any plastic litter created by fireworks. Sky or ‘Chinese’ lanterns aren’t safe for animals or for the environment.