The Vet Says

CONTINUING our series of articles from the nurses and vets of the Thrums Veterinary Group.

Bonfire night is fast approaching and unfortunately this can be a very stressful time of year for pets and their owners.

At Thrums Veterinary Group, we receive lots of phone calls from concerned owners around this time, all looking for advice about how to calm their pets.

Pets may show varied stress reactions to firework noise. Dogs in particular might tremble and attempt to hide while cats often sit wide eyed and terrified.

Other reactions include withdrawing into themselves, trying to hide, soiling in the house and sometimes destructive behaviour.

Pets may even harm themselves while trying to escape from the noise.

There are a few simple steps that can be taken to try and minimise the stress response that your pet may exhibit to noise phobia.

Provide a hiding place – animals naturally try to hide when they are scared. An ideal place is somewhere near the centre of the house, or where they have tried to hide before.

Close doors and windows – this will help to muffle the sound of the fireworks. Close curtains and keep the TV or radio turned up loud to help mask the bangs.

Keep pets inside – take your dog out before you anticipate the fireworks starting.

Don’t over-fuss them – making a fuss of your pet may signal to them that there is something to be scared about.

Stay calm yourself – most pets can sense when their owners are worried and this increases their stress.

If your pet wants to hide, allow them to do this and give them lots of fuss when they come back out.

Talk to your vet – they can advise short term measures which may include medications.

Medications can help reduce your pet’s response to the noise of fireworks. This may prevent their fears becoming worse. Your vet can also advise on the possibilities of a longer term management plan to reduce the stress response to loud noises including fireworks.

Noise desensitisation therapy can be successful at changing the response to fireworks and other loud noises. However, these programmes cannot be used at the same time as a scary noise is likely to occur and should be started months in advance.

Remember, Bonfire Night can be a fun time for lots of people but please do not forget to consider the effect it can have on pets.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact your vet now.