If you have an animal who is scared of fireworks, it can be an all year round problem. Particularly in the build up to November 5th, it can seem relentless.
So what can you do when the noises are beyond your control?
You can try and get your pet used to the noises by buying a firework CD and see if it can help enable your pet adjust to the sudden and loud noises. The CD works by de-sensitising the animal to noises. By exposing the pet to continuous firework noises it should hopefully dilute the problem by making it have less of an impact on the pet when the noises are for real.
It is important to create a safe environment for your pet. Make the area secure, dark and put a radio or TV on loud for them.
You can use calming scents around the house, lavender is a calming fragrance or you can buy branded plug-ins specifically manufactured for calming animals.
You can put a snood on your dog, they cover the ears and reduce the amount of noise the animal can hear.
You can buy a thunder-shirt, animal body vest, dog drying robe or put a t-shirt around your dog and make it snug, or use a bandage around the animals tummy. The idea is to make them feel secure.
There are some spray on calmers that you can put on a bandana or spray on the thunder-shirt. You could use the essential oil lavender oil. (Do NOT use directly on the animal).
There are other products on the market like special collars which work by using pheremones, spot on treatments which contain lavender oil.
You can look at buying tablets which have natural calmers in them, you would need to start using these a couple of weeks before you anticipate fireworks to take place.
You can also get tablets which will sedate your dog from your vets, these tablets will be prescription only. Your pet will have had to of been seen within three months n order for your vet to prescribe sedatives. These usually have to be given approximately 2 hours before you anticipate the fireworks thoughyou must follow the instructions you are given by your Vets.
Using tablets require forethought and planning. So it is better to be organised. I usually keep a schedule of times I give any medication and note down how long I feel it takes for the tablets to work and how long they are effective for. It can be stressful seeing your pet distressed so writing down what you have given will ensure you do not over medicate. Be clear on your dosages and frequency.
Remedies you might already have at home that you could use, a couple of drops of flower rescue remedy (administer every hour roughly) and CBD oil (administer one or two drops no more than twice in one evening). Please note this advice is basic as it cannot accommodate for animals with existing health problems.
Animals can get hurt through running away in fear of fireworks so try and walk your dog before fireworks commence. Make sure their collar is appropriately fitted (ie not too loose). It makes sense to ensure they do have an id tag on their collar and that their microchip is up to date with your contact details and is still working.
Your vet can easily check the chip is working and any local microchip implanters would be happy to check it for you.
Dogs who are scared of fireworks can shake, tremble, pant, salivate and get themselves into such a state that it is beyond cruel to leave them to their own devices. Some suffer with elevated heart rate, some can have seizures whilst others will claw at the door till their paws bleed or bite/chew at the walls, doors and window frame which can cause damage to their teeth. Some animals will make a bid for freedom at the first opportunity, if they escape they are at risk of getting caught up in fencing or hit by a car. They will run in a blind panic. It isn’t just pets who are scared of fireworks, but they also have an impact on wildlife, livestock and horses too. With horses being so frightened they develop colic and end up having to be put to sleep. I have had personal experience of my own horse being stuck in barbed wire as a result of fireworks. (Now I always have wire cutters with me!). It is next to impossible to prepare a horse for fireworks. (although there are calmers you can give in their feed). If you sedate a horse you cannot leave them unattended.
Some dogs can be fine year in, year out with the noise then all of a sudden develop a fear. For these dogs unfortunately the owner is usually caught out as they wont have bought tablets in advance. Do not be tempted to give them any human tablets. All that you can do in this situation is put a makeshift t-shirt on them, try and find something to cover their ears* and turn the tv up. I would then approach my vet for advice.
* Do NOT put anything in their ears.
Year in year out there are firework petitions – several have made it to parliament for debate. Please continue to sign the petitions you see, there is a campaign group working hard behind the scenes preparing documents to support the petitions.
Please also write to your MP and let them know if you are struggling with fireworks. As without writing to them your MP cannot act on your behalf in parliament. There is a simple way of getting in touch with your MP, by following this link: writetothem.com
If your pet gets injured then first aid is always useful to know but in my experience, prevention is better than cure. So follow some of these tips (or all) and hopefully you will survive firework season.
Any advice contained within this article does not take the place of that of a veterinary surgeons.