ASK THE VET

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY Craig is a part­ner in Cedar­mount Vet­eri­nary Clinic, Ban­gor (cedar­mountvets.co.uk). Send your pet queries to tele.vet@hot­mail.com. Craig can only re­spond to ques­tions through this col­umn, and th­ese an­swers can­not sub­sti­tute for treat­ment de

QEvery year at this time our col­lie gets so ter­ri­fied of the fire­works, he goes crazy in the house and even poos and wees all over the place. We have tried ev­ery­thing. What can we do? Jan­ice, Belfast

AFire­work sea­son her­alds a stress­ful time for many of our fam­ily pets.

A sur­vey by the RSPCA sug­gested that al­most a quar­ter of dogs in the UK have some anx­i­ety trig­gered by fire­work noise, or by some other loud bangs, such as a car back­fir­ing.

This is not a mi­nor nui­sance: many pets be­come very, very stressed, and can take days to re­cover from the trauma. Some cry and scram­ble fran­ti­cally for a safe place to hide.

Your dog sounds like he has a gen­uine noise pho­bia. The usual ad­vice may not, by it­self, be suf­fi­cient in such cases. Nev­er­the­less, there are some com­mon sense things which can be done. 1: Pro­vid­ing a safe “hidey-hole” is of­ten very ef­fec­tive. If a dog/cat can hide away in a safe “den” he/she will of­ten calm down. A cov­ered pen/box for a dog, or an en­closed bed high up, per­haps on a work sur­face or on a wardrobe, works well for ner­vous cats. 2: Pulling the cur­tains at dusk and turn­ing up a ra­dio or TV to drown out the fire­works can be sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive. 3: Take dogs for walks while it is still light and be­fore the noise starts. 4: Try to ig­nore any fear­ful be­hav­iour: if he/she gets too much at­ten­tion from you when stressed, they may as­sume there re­ally is some­thing to worry about. 5: Al­most any re­sponse from you at this crit­i­cal time can sub­con­sciously re­in­force the fear­ful be­hav­iour. 6: Do not pun­ish fear-driven be­hav­iour: it will make it worse. 7:Con­sider the rou­tine use of a pheromone plug-in. 8:Make sure your mi­crochip de­tails are up to date in case they are spooked enough torun­away.

In your case, and for many very stressed dogs, there are a num­ber of med­i­ca­tions your vet can pre­scribe for use at high risk pe­ri­ods. Pre­scrib­ing prac­tices are chang­ing: some of the older seda­tives are now be­lieved to be con­tra-in­di­cated in man­ag­ing th­ese pho­bias.

Talk it over with your vet.

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