Calm­ing your pet in fire­work sea­son

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY -

Nica Schreuder

Fire­works sea­son is upon us and for pet own­ers this can be a stress­ful time of year.

How­ever, there are ways to ease into the end of the year, and to make sure your pet doesn’t bear the brunt of the silly sea­son, thanks to ad­vice from Hill’s Pet Nu­tri­tion ad­vi­sor Dr Guy Fyvie.

He says it is vi­tal to know how to re­lieve any stress your pets may feel as a re­sult of fire­works and rau­cous par­ties, es­pe­cially if you have an anx­ious pet.

Be­cause our pets’ hear­ing is sharper and more sen­si­tive than our own, they can hear noises from much fur­ther away.

So, even if there is a party a few kilo­me­tres from your home, it may still be dis­tress­ing to your pet, says Fyvie.

He rec­om­mends pet par­ents look out for the fol­low­ing signs of anx­ious be­hav­iour:

Hid­ing or cow­er­ing away, or at­tempt­ing to es­cape Bowel and blad­der ac­ci­dents Ex­ces­sive pant­ing Rest­less be­hav­iour Shak­ing and yawn­ing Ex­ces­sive lick­ing or chew­ing Bark­ing and howl­ing more than usual

There are sim­ple things you can do to make your pet feel more re­laxed:

Keep fa­mil­iar sounds play­ing in the house, such as leav­ing the TV on or play­ing back­ground mu­sic. This makes your pet feel more at ease be­cause it will seem like a nor­mal day.

Close the cur­tains to con­ceal the flash of fire­works and keep doors and win­dows closed to min­imise the sound

Cre­ate a cosy, space for your pet to re­treat to if they feel anx­ious. Make sure to put their favourite blankies, toys and treats in this space.

Try to keep your out­door cats in­side. You can do this by plac­ing a lit­ter tray in­side, and clos­ing all doors and win­dows, as well as the cat flap, so that they are un­able to es­cape. Try to stay home. If this is not pos­si­ble, en­sure some­one they trust and are fa­mil­iar with looks af­ter them. Con­sis­tency is key. Or con­sider call­ing in a pet-sit­ting agency ahead of time to ar­range a pet sit­ter for the evening. Ask your vet about food to help al­le­vi­ate stress. He may rec­om­mend med­i­ca­tions to calm your pet down in ex­treme cases, but make sure your furbaby is not al­ler­gic to any­thing. If you are plan­ning to tran­si­tion your pet to stress-re­duc­ing food, do this four weeks be­fore­hand.

Pet par­ents with ner­vous an­i­mals may con­sider switch­ing per­ma­nently

The use of fire­works is reg­u­lated by South African by-laws un­der the Ex­plo­sives Act of 1956.

This states that no fire­works may be set off within 200m of any hos­pi­tal, clinic, petrol sta­tion, old-age or us­ing home, or an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion, and that us­ing fire­works to frighten pets is il­le­gal.

“How­ever, even if the fire­works dis­play is a fair dis­tance from your home, dogs and cats’ hear­ing is far sharper and much more sen­si­tive than ours, and the noise could still trig­ger an anx­ious re­ac­tion,” says Fyvie.

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