October 26, 2016 – Award-winning vet, animal welfare campaigner and author Marc Abraham, also known as ‘Marc the Vet’, gave Pet News Today his top tips to help you keep your pets safe, secure and calm during fireworks on Halloween and Guy Fawkes night.
- Stay at home with your pets. Don’t take them with you to fireworks displays; don’t tie dogs up outside in the garden while fireworks are going off. Unbelievably, Marc said he’s heard of people doing this.
- Prepare well in advance. A few days prior, to get your pets get adjusted, start feeding them a bit earlier in the evening and walk dogs before dusk on the lead.
- It’s worth asking your neighbours if or when they are planning to let off fireworks – you never know if for a work or family reason they might be doing it the night before or day after.
- Marc said there are downloads and CDs available that help both acclimatise and desensitise your dog and cat to the noise of fireworks. Just Google dog or cat ‘desensitisation sounds’.
- On the day, as you have been doing, feed your animals’ evening meals a bit earlier. Marc said a meal high in carbohydrates can be calming. Walk the dog prior to dusk, on the lead. If you haven’t already done so – and you should have because it is now the law (with dogs anyway) – ensure your pets are micro-chipped in case they are frightened and bolt for it. Let them out to the toilet before dusk then bring them in. Ensure there are filled water bowls around as nervous pets tend to drink more.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs should be brought inside and given extra bedding to burrow into. Sadly, Marc’s heard of rabbits dying of heart attacks from being left outside when fireworks are going off.
- Ensure you have a nice den set up for your dog and/or cat that they can retreat to if things get a bit too noisy. Marc recommends putting an unwashed piece of clothing with your smell on it in the den to help keep them calm.
- Lock the doors, close the windows and draw all the curtains – flashes can be as scary as noises for pets – and pop the TV or radio on. Marc said music with repetitive is apparently quite good at distracting pets from the sound of fireworks.
- Behave normally – do not try and comfort your dog if it becomes anxious as that can make it feel there’s something wrong and get more distressed, Marc said.
- If you dog wees or poops in response to noise, don’t punish it for being scared, said Marc.
- If your dog has to go out for a toilet break after dark, go with it and keep it company in your garden on the lead. Be vigilant – never assume your dog proof fence is, in fact, dog proof.
- The following day, check the garden for fireworks debris. Rockets often contain toxic chemicals, and sparklers are sharp. Watch out for these on walks as well, Marc said, adding it’s worth keeping the dog on a lead for a few days afterwards.
“There are plenty of products on the market which don’t require prescriptions, including natural calming liquid from Pettura, which can help de-stress your dog. Occasionally you may need something stronger in which case you’ll need to ask your vet or behaviourist.
“If people are worried or concerned at any point, from six weeks before or two seconds before, always call your vet for advice. All vets will have a 24-hour helpline… people should never feel like they are alone,” said Marc.
For more tips from Marc, and information on how to detect the signs of stress in your dog from canine behaviourist Carolyn Menteith, watch this Pettura-sponsored video Dog stress and anxiety
To find out more about Marc and the animal welfare campaigns he champions, visit www.marcthevet.com
Main photo: Sarah Bardsley Photography – www.sarahbardsley.com