Surviving fireworks season with your dog
Humans love them but our four-legged friends hate them. Yep, we're talking about fireworks! Read our tips on surviving fireworks with your dog:
We know many of you pet parents are worrying over how your pooches are going to cope with the coming weeks full of fireworks, loud bangs and bright flashes.
Our pets’ hearing is far more sensitive than our own. Those shrieking firecrackers can reach up to 150 decibels which is equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off just 25 meters away (enough to cause eardrum rupture). Missing animal reports increase by a third for dogs and a quarter for cats — it’s scary stuff for them and us. There is so much advice and support around but often owners feel they fail to help their dog, cat or animal cope, and get distressed themselves. There is hope though, but it takes a bit of time and learning some specialised skills to succeed.
Poppy's Picnic have previously teamed up with the lovely Toni Shelbourne, co-author of the book HELP! My Dog is Scared of Fireworks to give you 5 useful pointers (and it was hard to limit it to just five!), for making some changes for the positive and helping your pet overcome his fears:
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Any changes need to be made before the season to ensure your dog is safe and as stress free as possible. This might include altering walk and meal times, ensuring a rota is in place so your dog is never home alone, starting any calming products or veterinary drugs, and setting up a safe area in the house if your dog wants to hide. If you are going to the vets to pick up calming products, also ask them to scan your dog’s microchip to ensure it is still working. More dogs go missing on fireworks night than any other time of year, so being reunited quickly is paramount
- Many pet parents have tried this, that and the other but most measures prove to be unhelpful. The key is to use multiple tools as each will help a little and together, they are more effective. For example, the Tellington TTouch body work and a body wrap (or any of the calming coats) can be used at the same time as calming tablets, and a plug-in product. The key is to do your research and make sure that what you do combine, won’t disrupt the others. It’s important to also be cautious when using off-the-shelf herbal products as what is considered ‘natural’ isn’t always safe. Best to check with your vet, especially if your dog is on medication for an illness already. You can also talk to an alternative vet or a qualified practitioner in modalities like Bach Flower remedies, zoopharmacognosy or even acupressure. All of which have been known to help animals who are noise-phobic
- Check your dog isn’t in pain. Many older animals have a touch of arthritis. Often it goes undiagnosed, so if your elderly pet starts to be fearful of noise or you notice their anxiety getting worse, talk to your vet about pain relief. Many can cope again once the twinges of old age are relieved
- If your dog is only mildly worried about the bangs, make sure you have lots of fun things for him to do while they are going off. Many dogs love a long lasting chew others are occupied by interactive enrichment toys like snuffle mats, while some like to train; running through their favourite repertoire of tricks. Perhaps you can pair the loudest bangs with one of our tasty bites to build up a good association. This may not work for dogs who are really worried, but for some, playing games and having treats can work really well
- In Toni’s experience, the most effective help for pets to overcome their fears however, is preparing them with the Tellington TTouch Training Method. Learning and regularly applying in the lead up to and on the night of fireworks (if safe to do so), the TTouches (specialised ways of moving the skin around), a TTouch body wrap and, if appropriate, working them through the confidence course really can make a huge impact on how they feel about fireworks
Follow this link to purchase: HELP! My Dog is Scared of Fireworks (available from Amazon in Kindle or paperback format), written by Toni Shelbourne and Karen Bush.