Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fireworks and your pets - help them conquer their fears

Q. How can you tell if your pet is becoming anxious about fireworks?

A: If they show any combination of shaking, trembling, excessive drooling, barking, howling, trying to hide, trying to get either into or out of the house or garden, temporary loss of appetite, temporary loss of bladder or bowel control, unusual destructive behaviour or diarrhoea.

Most pets hate fireworks. They don’t like the noise and the unpredictability and they are frightened by the flashing lights.

If your pet is affected by fear of fireworks, come and talk to us or call us on 020 7723 0453 for advice.

Start your preparation early with the Sounds Scary CD to slowly desensitise your pet to the sounds of fireworks or other such noises – don’t wait until the fireworks start.

Keep your pets indoors at night during firework ‘season’, with the curtains closed, the lights on and music or television to disguise the noise and flashes.

If your pets become very anxious, don’t oversympathise with them: they may see this as you approving of their nervous behaviour.

Provide a ‘safe place’ – a den or secure cover bed area where they can hide away.

Give them plenty of vigorous exercise during the day to tire them out. Don’t exercise them after dark, to avoid running into any displays.

Provide plenty of toys such as Kongs and chews to act as a distraction.

Block up cat-flaps and close doors and windows to prevent your anxious pet from running away during fireworks.

There are a number of products available that you can safely use to help calm them:

Calmex is a new non-sedating calming product that takes effect in as little as 30-60 minutes

Adaptil, the dog appeasement pheromone. This is available as a spray, a diffuser that you can plug in to the mains or as an impregnated collar. Adaptil is the most calming reassuring smell in the entire dog universe. Use it throughout the day and night.

Zylkène is a novel product that can really have a dramatic effect on stress and anxiety in dogs and cats. An extract of the milk protein casein which is given in a capsule form, it is a natural alternative to pharmaceutical medicines or sedatives. You should ideally start supplementing at least 2 weeks before the firework season.

Scullcap & valerian tablets (combined with gentian), available in tablet form, it often has a gentle and calming effect on anxious or stressed animals.

Kalmaid contains L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine which cross the blood-brain barrier and affect the central nervous system

SereneUm a combination of amino acids and vitamins with specific calming action, available in tablet or liquid form.

Homeopet Anxiety TFLN (Thunder Fireworks and Loud Noises) is a homeopathic compound: many people report this to be very helpful at this time of year.

If your pet is extremely sensitive, a mild sedative or tranquilliser may be needed to help keep him calm.

Make sure that your pet is properly identified in case he does run off during fireworks. We recommend both an identity disc and a microchip.

If you must set off fireworks, PLEASE do it as far as possible from homes with pets.

Consider asking a friend or relative that lives in a quieter environment to take care of your pet for a while, but always remember to update your pets ID tag with the relevant contact details if he’s is staying away from home.

Alternatively, you may want to book your pets into a rural boarding kennels to ensure complete safety.

It’s best for your pets if you go to an organised display rather than letting off fireworks in your garden, and NEVER take your pet to a firework display!

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