Behaviour specialists are warning dog owners to beware of extra firework noises today (Nov 4) due to bonfire night parties being brought forward.
They fear that with the second national lockdown due to begin tomorrow, many events planned for the weekend will be held tonight, rather than cancelled.
Training and behaviour specialist for Agria Pet Insurance, Carolyn Menteith, warned that signs of distress in dogs could be wide-ranging, going from slightly worried to full blown panic attacks.
Owners are warned to watch out for panting, pacing, trembling, salivating, loss of toilet training, becoming clingy, hiding, vomiting, digging, trying to escape and even aggression.
Carolyn said: “This is a nightmare for owners but it is far worse for the poor dog who is in an almost constant state of high stress during the firework season, with the stress hormone; cortisol, taking up to 96 hours to return to normal after a severe noise phobic episode.
“Symptoms tend to be progressive too – with each episode producing more severe reactions, and fears to other sounds may also develop as the dog becomes more and more sensitised.”
What to do to help your pets:
> Take dogs out for their last walk of the day early so they are relaxed and tired and so they don’t have to go out when fireworks are likely. Cats must be in before dusk. If they were to run from a firework, they could end up lost or on a road.
> Use the TV or radio to try and mask some of the noise.
> If your pet is only slightly worried, distract them with a treat, a game or, for dogs, some training, to take their mind off the fireworks.
> Don’t try to make your pet face up to their fear. For them, it is very real and it is scary. Far better give them somewhere that feels safe – most cats and dogs find comfort in having a den that they can go to.
> Set up a crate or a pen in a quiet corner of the room as far from windows and doors as possible with plenty of comfortable bedding, a cover, some water and treats. Let them stay there as long as they need without disturbing them but stay close so they can feel your presence and in case they need your comfort.
> Don’t ignore your pet when they show fearful behaviour. They will take comfort from your presence and support. Don’t force them to stay with you but if they come to you for comfort or reassurance make sure you give them just that.
> Consider complementary treatments such as diffusers, herbal remedies and other natural, drug-free products that may help. If your pet’s symptoms are extreme however, talk to your vet about possible medication.
Carolyn also advises that owners who were worried about their pets’ response to fireworks this year should plan ahead for next year and work with an accredited and experienced trainer to try to reduce the animal’s noise phobia.