The festive season can overexcite the family pet
BANG! It's thunderstorms and fireworks time of year again. If your pet is scared of sudden loud noises then here are a few tips to help them cope.
Remember that a panic response is very stressful and unhealthy for your pet, and every fireworks/storm season we hear stories of dogs which escape in panicked terror and are found up to 20 kilometres from home!
First ensure that your pet is inside and secure doors, windows and cat flaps.
If possible organise a den or bolt hole where your pet feels safe.
This could be a cardboard box or something similar.
There are anxiety reducing drugs available from your vet.
These can help a lot in extreme cases, but you'll need to have a consultation with your vet to decide what is appropriate for your pet.
There are also some relaxing pheromones, Feliway for cats and DAP or Adaptil for dogs.
These can be in the form of collars, sprays and diffusers which plug into the power point. These are safe and effective.
Close all doors and windows, draw curtains and blinds so that associated visual cues like lightning and fireworks flashes are reduced, and try disguising the outside noise with some inside sounds which your pet is accustomed to, like TV or music.
Make sure your pet is microchipped because if they do escape they can travel surprising distances.
It's important to ignore fearful behaviour and avoid comforting your pet as this can reinforce their phobic response by providing a reward.
Help your pet by changing its environment as described above rather than fussing and let them see that you are relaxed and calm. They will pick up on your anxiety if you are visibly worried about them!
Never get cross or punish their fearful behaviour, as this will only increase their distress. If possible don't leave them alone in such situations.
After the season is over talk to your vet about treatment for noise phobias.