Founder of the Holistic Pet Company, vet Holly Mash has been practising complementary medicine for the past ten years, here she shares her tips on how to keep your pet calm and safe when fireworks are going off.
During the winter months when we have a range of celebrations in the calendar, your pet’s peaceful routine is likely to be shattered by the whizzes, bangs and screams of fireworks – especially on Fireworks Night. However, by taking a few simple precautions and planning ahead, you can help your pet to stay safe and calm at this time of year.
Preparation is the key. One of the most important things to do is to make a den or nest area where your dog can retreat to during fireworks displays; somewhere they can feel safe and secure. This is usually a spot where they would naturally go to hide, such as under your bed, or under a table. Leave favourite treats in the selected spots to encourage your dog to use his new ‘refuge’. Place a piece of your clothing there as well, to add to the feeling of safety and familiarity. Cats too will benefit from the provision of different hiding places and cosy nests, as well as extra litter trays.
Just some of the perfect beds and blankets to make your pet feel safe
In terms of natural methods of relieving anxiety in pets Dr Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which is normally used by humans, is an excellent solution. A good standard dose is to add four drops into your pet’s water bowl, (changed daily), for the week or so before New Year’s Eve. Or to give them four drops on a treat for a more rapid calming effect on the night itself.
Another natural method is to use a calming remedy which uses Valerian, a plant that has a soothing and calming effect on the nervous system. Valerian is used as a mild natural sedative but does not cause drowsiness, instead Valerian is classified as one of those herbal remedies that will help induce sleep and can be used to help dogs that pace around at night and find it difficult to go to sleep.
However, take note that Valerian used on cats causes euphoria and acts similarly to catnip when given to cats, and is not a good choice to treat cat anxiety or stress.
The use of Tellington touch methods which consist of massage and a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises, which helps to release tension, can be another way to help keep animals calm around fireworks. Of particular benefit at this time would be the use of a body wrap or a ‘compression coat’ for your dog.
When it comes to a major celebration day itself when most fireworks will be expected, bring your pets safely indoors well before it begins to get dark. Firmly close all external doors, windows and cat-flaps. Draw the curtains and have the TV or radio on, or music playing, as background noise. Make sure that your pet is micro-chipped, just in case they manage to make an escape.
Finally, whilst you should never leave your pet home alone whilst there are lots of fireworks going off, it’s also very important not to cuddle or comfort them if they become distressed. Instead, stay calm and relaxed, act normally and praise them for calm behaviour. Seeing you, and any other family pets, acting normally will help any anxious animals to feel calm and safe.