Fireworks & Noise Phobias

2016-10-24 02:10:09


Remember, remember the fifth of November…

Guy Fawkes Night has, for over 400 years now, been a night of celebration in the United Kingdom, commemorating the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Families gather around bonfires to wave sparklers, eat toffee apples and express admiration at colourful and explosive firework displays. Whilst they might be fun for humans, fireworks can be a little less enjoyable for our pets. Noise phobias can be common in pets, especially dogs and they can be triggered by a number of different things, such as fireworks, thunderstorms or cars backfiring.

A phobia is a persistent, excessive and irrational response to a stimulus and for pet owners this means that every fifth of November becomes a recurring nightmare. Noise phobias are more common in certain dog breeds. For instance, traditional shepherding dogs that are selected for their keen sense of hearing like Border Collies and German Shepherds. These phobias can sometimes be related to a bad experience but this isn’t always the case, it can often just be a self-perpetuating cycle.

We spoke to our pet health experts to find out how to make this experience less traumatic for family pets.

Know the signs

Be on the lookout for, often subtle, tell-tale signs that may indicate if your animal is becoming distressed. These can include;

– Hiding

– Restlessness

– Vocalisation

– Lack of appetite

– Shaking

– Change in toilet behaviour

– Panting

– Destructive behaviour

– Seeking or pleading behaviour

– Frequent attempts to escape

Treatment Tips

The most important treatment tip is to be prepared. Don’t get caught out; remember that every November, firework displays will occur, often over a succession of nights. The same applies at New Year and over Christmas, and be aware that religious celebrations, such as Diwali and Eid, also commemorate the occasion with fireworks. Make a note of any events occurring in your local area which may prove problematic. Other helpful tips to follow are below;

– Conditioning: Get your animal used to the sound. Sounds Scary CDs are available to buy or free to download from the Dogs Trust.

– Microchipping: In the event that your pet does escape, make sure the microchip details are up to date.

– Act Normal: Don’t fuss over your pet. It is important that the owner doesn’t react to the situation, remain calm and confident and ignore the noise. Never punish your pet for their fear behaviours.

– Create a Safe Zone: Make your pet feel safe and secure in their environment. Make a den where your pet can go and hide. Put their toys and blankets in there so that they’re surrounded by familiar scents.

– Seclusion: Keep pets shut indoors before, during and after the event. Close the curtains and put some music on.

– Exercise: During firework season, dogs should be walked earlier in the day. Avoid taking them out after dark and bring feeding time forward to encourage them to settle earlier.

– Medication: Pheromone products are recommended by vets. Studies indicate that pheromones, such as Adaptil or Feliway, make pets feel more secure in their environment.

– Calming supplements: Non-prescription supplements are available for cats and dogs such as Zyklene, Calmex and Kalm-aid. Also, natural herbal products containing valerian compounds can help.

– For Further Problems: If your pet displays signs consistent with a true phobia then they may require prescription medication, like diazepam and other memory blocking drugs. Seek advice from your vet concerning this.

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