With just a few weeks to go until Bonfire Night and Halloween, fireworks season is about to get underway.
Animal charities are urging pet owners to prepare in advance to help their pets cope with the stress and trauma of the booms and bangs.
More than a thousand pets have been seen at vet charity PDSA’s hospitals in the last 12 months for fireworks-related issues, such as phobias and injuries.
In response, it has created a Fireworks Ready action plan that recommends using CDs of the sounds of fireworks.
For puppies and kittens who will be having their first experience of fireworks, gradually introducing them to the unusual sounds can significantly reduce the likelihood of fears developing in later life.
Using a CD can also help older pets who already shows signs of fireworks phobia. Building up the volume and duration very gradually over a period of weeks, while remaining calm and relaxed, can teach them that there is nothing to be afraid of.
The action plan also recommends ensuring that cats and dogs are microchipped so that if they run off in panic they can be quickly reunited with their owner.
And Dogs Trust Leeds is urging owners to build a ‘doggy den’ in their homes in a bid to make dogs feel safe and secure.
Amanda Sands, manager of the local charity, said: “The doggy den should be positioned away from the hubbub of the family home, somewhere quiet where the dog can rest peacefully.
“This will very much be a safe space for the dog, but they should be able to move in and out of the den freely, making it as cosy and snug as possible is a must but Fido should be able to see out of the den should he want to.”
Here’s the charity’s top tips for creating a doggy den
• Use an indoor dog crate or chairs and/or a table covered in blankets to create the safe space. The blankets over the top will help muffle the bangs.
• Fill the den with soft blankets, pillows, toys and a few familiar items that smell of your dog to make him or her feel comfortable. A few items smelling of their owner would be a bonus.
• Make sure there is access to clean drinking water in the den. A non-slip bowl would be an advantage to avoid spills.
• Keep a radio or the TV playing as this will help to mask the sounds of the fireworks outside.
• But the dens can be made for cats too. Felines often feel safest when high up so a safely secured, covered cat bed on top of a wardrobe or shelf may be their preferred option.
• For severe phobias, speak to a vet who will be able to discuss various options including referral to an accredited behaviourist.