Calming your pet in firework season
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.