The intermittent loud noise and lights in the sky are a terrifying and fear evoking event for many animals, especially dogs.
Signs of fear and anxiety include panting, pacing, drooling, escape attempts, attention seeking or refuge seeking. Some dogs have severe anxiety and panic attacks while trying to escape leading to significant injury.
There is something about Guy Fawkes that turns normal human beings into pyromaniacs. All sense goes out the window and the worst of human nature comes to the fore. Care needs to be taken when it comes to fireworks, animals and children- they never mix and every year the SPCA and other organisations see horrific injuries from intentional or accidental animal abuse.
A lot of owners just don’t get it. You must get your pet in before night fall, don’t wait until the party has started. Panic and seeking refuge can mean lost pets. Make sure they have collars on and are micro-chipped. Every day I still see pets whose microchips are either not reading or the owner information is not current and up-to-date.
Make sure you get your pets inside well before night fall. If you know your pet is phobic or shows signs of distress then make a safe zone. A bed in the closet, bathroom, under the bed with and plug in a pheromone diffuser with some loud music with a good steady beat-remember to close the curtains before nightfall, feed them a hearty meal-overcooked brown rice and marmite helps them relax!
Bring outdoors pets like bunnies and guinea pigs indoors. Make sure they are in the stables, barn or garage and again make them a safe haven. Insulate pocket pet cages with boxes and blankets.
Natural products can work very well in mild cases, rescue remedy, pet calm, pheromone diffusers and thundershirts (anxiety wraps) all help to decrease stress and the need for more hard hitting drugs.
For severe cases we often prescribe sedatives and anti-anxiety medications-however these are not without adverse side effects and a thorough vet check is necessary before prescription. These are not over the counter medications and do require veterinary consultation and blood work prior to dispensing.
Let pets choose their own safe haven and make it as comfortable as possible-again-get the beats going so that the intermittent bangs and whizzes mix with the sound of the cd. Mutt Muffs or cotton wool in the ears may help, again using some herbal remedies and disguising the noise with a solid relentless back beat helps them to relax and go to sleep.
Get some nice drinks, popcorn and some loud, action videos, close the curtains and tuck in for the night. Reward calm behaviour from your pet with treats or play. Try not to be anxious yourself as you will only confirm their fears.
If you are going out to enjoy the evening take your puppy or hang out at a distance with your kitten to help them to become desensitised to fireworks. Many pets are fine around fireworks as long as they are not too close. Use toys and food treats to tell them that there is nothing to worry about.
Pets should recover within a day or so of Guy Fawkes. Owners with animals that are severely distressed about the fireworks season should consider starting anxiolytic medications a month or so before it all happens as it is easier to prevent extreme anxiety than to treat the consequences.