It’s time for the Greenwich, Lewisham and Blackheath fireworks over on the Heath this evening. So it’s also time to think about firework safety for your pets.
Whilst fireworks are a lot of fun for the human members of the family, your furry family members often don’t enjoy them quite as much!
Here are some tips from Kats and Dogs on how to keep your pets happy and calm over this weekend
Take your dog for a nice long walk earlier in the day when it’s still light. It’s supposed to stay dry today – so get out there and enjoy the autumn colours. Obviously, you can’t walk your cat (unless you have trained them to do so!) but you could play with them for 5-10min before you give them their evening food – this will tap into their predatory pattern of “hunt–eat–groom – sleep”.
Keep Your Pets at Home
My advice would be to keep your dogs at home tonight. Even dogs who don’t appear to be bothered by the fireworks can find the crowds of people, the lights and the noise all very stressful. Remember your pet doesn’t have to be showing signs such as shaking or whimpering to be distressed as even excessive panting or yawning can indicate that they are anxious.
Keep cats indoors
Sadly there are some idiots out there who think it’s a good idea to fire off fireworks in the street or even worse attach them to cats, so my advice is to keep your cat inside in the evenings so they can stay safe and warm. Most cats if given the option of a warm spot to sleep certainly won’t complain!
Other outdoor pets such as rabbits etc.
Have their cages/huts covered to help keep the sound and lights muffled. You can also think about giving them extra material to bury under or fun things to chew.
Adaptil (dogs) and Feliway (cats)
These are types of comforting pheromones which only your pet can detect. Ideally, these would have been started around 2 weeks ago as they can take time to have a noticeable effect, but it’s certainly not going to hurt. You can find more information about them by clicking on the links below – note both Blackheath Vets and the Animal Clinic currently have them on sale at 50% off!
Draw the curtains and put the Radio/TV on
This will help muffle the sounds of the fireworks and block out the lights from the display.
Give your pets somewhere to hide if they want to and if they do go and hide, leave them be.
Get out your dog's favourite toy or an extra special chew that you know they love. The idea being they are so focused that they don’t even notice the fireworks. Cats may be happy to play and catnip/valerian can be very enjoyable, but if you have played with them before dinner they are most likely to just sleep!
Comfort your pet – It’s ok!
You will often read that comforting your pet teaches them that fireworks are big and scary – this is now known to be false.
Think about it – if you were terrified of a spider in the corner of the room and your friend gave you a hug – it wouldn’t make you more scared of the spider. However, if they smothered you, it might make you even more uncomfortable. So whilst it is important to let your pet come to you if they do want a cuddle – then that is ok – you can not reinforce fear.
You can read more about the “don’t comfort your pet myth” here
Thunder shirts for dogs
These can be very helpful for some dogs, as they provide a feeling of comfort. You can purchase them at Pets at Home – or alternatively there is a DIY version which is available here. If your dog wants to take it off, then take it off – it is supposed to be comforting, not distressing.
Be prepared for next year
If your pet is seriously concerned about the fireworks (especially if they are very distressed or have injured themselves trying to escape) please contact Kats and Dogs for professional advice on how to make next year less terrifying as I would be delighted to help you.
There are lots of things that can be done, but it does take time so it’s never too early to start preparing for next year.
Cat and Dog with Fireworks – Image owner could not be found. Link to image use on the internet here If you are the image owner – please contact me
Signals – Doggie Drawings.net by Lili Chin
Penny – Penny does not like getting a bath via photopin (license)