With the arrival of Fall and Halloween it is the beginning of the firework season when pets are exposed to the unpredictable loud bangs and flashes of fireworks. About a three quarters of pets are scared of fireworks and in some cases they injure themselves trying to get away or hide in dangerous places.
The good news is there are some steps you can take to keep your beloved pet safe and cared for during these stressful times.
1. Find out when the fireworks will be starting and how they will affect your home. A simple call to the local municipality will tell you if there are any fireworks in your area and on what dates and times. Mark them on the calendar and make sure you prepare your pet for them.
2. Desensitisation: Desensitisation of noises helps to prevent phobia of loud noises by playing a CD (such as Sounds Scary) which stimulates the random and unpredictable noises of fireworks. Play this a couple of weeks before the fireworks, gradually building both the volume and the duration. Many pets are successfully helped through this process
3. Prepare the house: During the firework season the house becomes a safety zone for your pet. You should leave some lights on, close the curtains to stop the flashes and play some familiar sounds which will help cover the fireworks sounds (such as the TV)
4. Prepare a den: Choose the quietest room in the house for this. Prepare the area in advance with lots of blankets and duvets. The den can be a wardrobe or under a table, behind a chair etc. Put some of your pets favourite chew toys, scratch posts for cats etc to keep your pet distracted. Add a litter tray for cats and remember to dispose of any sharp items in the area. Make sure to leave fresh water in the den.
5. During the fireworks: Half an hour before the fireworks start place your pet in the chosen room and encourage him to settle there. Do not reassure or comfort the pet if they are scared as this actually rewards the pet’s fearful behaviour and teaches them that this is the correct response.
Don’t forget about small furry animals either. If they are outside in cages or pens cover them with a blanked to dampen the loud noises. Leave some space for the small animals to see outside though. Lastly just like with dogs and cats provide your furry pets with extra bedding for them to burrow in.