Sunderland Echo - - Pet Corner -

very year eight million pets suf­fer in the UK be­cause of fire­works and although Guy Fawkes might be a lot of fun for spec­ta­tors, for pets it can be a painful and fright­en­ing time.

PDSA vet, Re­becca Ash­man, ex­plains how fire­works af­fect an­i­mals. “Any­one who has had a pet that suf­fers from fire­works pho­bia will know how chal­leng­ing it can be,” she says.

“Pets have very acute hear­ing and, for them, the loud bangs can be ter­ri­fy­ing. They can shake with fear, toi­let in the house, de­stroy fur­ni­ture, and even cause them­selves phys­i­cal in­jury if they panic or run away.”

Your pet doesn’t need to fear fire­works though, fol­low Re­becca’s ad­vice for pre­par­ing your pet for fire­works. the vol­ume and du­ra­tion over a pe­riod of sev­eral weeks.

Build a fire­works den for your pet sev­eral weeks ahead – this should be some­where they feel safe. For dogs this may be be­hind the sofa or un­der a ta­ble – cover it with blan­kets and line it with pil­lows to re­duce any sound. Cats of­ten feel safest when high up, so a safely se­cured cat bed on a shelf or wardrobe may be their pre­ferred op­tion. Don’t force them to use this, but do re­ward them with praise or a healthy treat when they do so they build a pos­i­tive as­so­ci­a­tion.

These are avail­able as dif­fusers which re­lease scents which are un­de­tectable to hu­mans, but have a calm­ing, re­as­sur­ing ef­fect on our pets. They are avail­able for dogs and cats, and should be used for sev­eral weeks lead­ing up to fire­works sea­son.

If you have a young pet who will be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fire­works for the first time, then how you re­act, and how this ex­pe­ri­ence goes, can af­fect how they re­act to fire­works for the rest of their life. Read up on the process of so­cial­i­sa­tion, which is when young pets are in­tro­duced to a va­ri­ety of peo­ple, ob­jects, sounds and ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing their first few months. When done cor­rectly, this can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the like­li­hood of fears de­vel­op­ing in later life.

For se­vere pho­bias, we rec­om­mend speak­ing to your vet, who will be able to dis­cuss var­i­ous op­tions in­clud­ing re­fer­ral to an ac­cred­ited be­haviourist.

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