FIREWORKS AND YOUR PET
Pets and small children become very fearful when exposed to unpredictable loud noises and bright lights. It is a sensible response as noises and flashes are usually associated with things which may damage or kill you.
Children learn not to be frightened because their parents are relaxed and because, when they are old enough, language can be used to reassure them; they also learn by watching from inside the house where they can go and hide if they want, only venturing outside when they feel confident.
Animals need as much consideration as you would give a small child. Do not take them, or leave them, outside where they are exposed to noise and flashes.
Cats and dogs should be kept safely inside; some animals will enjoy watching the lights through the safety of the window but many do not. If your animal is disturbed by the lights then draw the curtains and make sure the room is brightly lit so that there is very little change in lighting level when a firework goes off.
Even if your animal enjoys the flashes they are unlikely to enjoy the noise, animal hearing is more acute than ours so something which is loud to us is probably painfully loud to them. To help them deal with the noise it is sensible to try to reduce the contrast between the time the firework is exploding and the time of silence between explosions. Put on the radio or the television, a noise with which your animal is familiar, and have it on quite loud. This will even out the noise level and make the explosions less of a shock to your pet.
Animals who are kept outside in pens or hutches should be moved into sheds if possible and the same lighting and noise levels should be provided as for animals indoors AS LONG AS this itself will not cause distress to your pets.
If you can not move your outside pets to the inside for the duration of the firework session then try to cover their hutch or pen with something thick which will absorb/mute the flashes and bangs.
Try to make sure that you have taken precautions to help your pet deal with fireworks BEFORE the fireworks start. If you only react once the bangs and flashes are happening you may accidentally reinforce your animal’s fear, they may think you are frightened too.
If your DOG is not reassured by the measures mentioned above there is a product called Adaptil (formerly known as DAP, Dog Appeasing Pheromone) which you can get from the surgery and which may help your dog become calmer.
This product works on dogs only. It consists of a plug-in diffuser which releases pheromone into the air of the room.
A similar product, Feliway, is useful for making cats less anxious at firework time.
Anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) drugs such as diazepam and clomipramine may be useful, but the use of these drugs needs to be carefully discussed with the vet.
Also available is Sounds Scary, a purpose made behaviour therapy CD which comes with full instructions for phobia assessment and treatment