Fireworks phobias

If your pet had a hard time over Guy Fawke’s, New Year’s eve may be just as bad! Here’s some hints and tips to help everyone get through (hopefully!) stress-free.

Providing lots of mental and physical stimulation is the most important factor in reducing anxiety. Ideally try and get them focused on something else before the stressor becomes overwhelming. Ways to accomplish this are:

  • Take your dog out for a long walk late in the afternoon and feed all pets their dinner early evening. Tired pets with full tummies are more relaxed and sleepy.
  • For fulltime outside four legged residents make sure they are housed in a secure, covered in kennel or in the garage. Cover windows to block out fireworks flashes and to make sure they don’t try to leap through windows in an effort to escape.
  • Provide the cat with a bed in a sideways cardboard box or their own carry cage and have a towel draped over the opening so it makes an effective hidey hole. Do the same with pocket pets (rabbits and guinea pigs) as well.
  • Another handy tip is to have the TV on or play the radio: this will help drown out the bangs and provide a distraction.
  • Ensure pets are either wearing identification on their collar or are microchipped, just in case they bolt.
  • Never punish your pet if they are scared. Being calm and relaxed yourself is your greatest tool, as our dogs are looking towards us for some insight on how they should be reacting in these situations.
  • If your dog needs to pace, then provide somewhere safe and secure for her to do so; if he needs to chew to relieve stress, make sure he has plenty of safe things to chew on.

Totally Vets Firework Busters

  • Thundershirts – this is a firm fitting jacket that applies gentle, constant calming pressure, similar to swaddling an infant child. For best results the shirt needs to be fitted at least 15 minutes before the adverse event.
  • Adaptil collars and Feliway spray – these are a synthetic version of the calming pheromones (the feel good smell) which the mother emits to her puppies, and cats rub all over you when they mush you with their faces. It is said to have the same calming effect on adult pets in times of distress.
  • We also stock a number of over the counter natural calming remedies, and can book a consultation with a vet for those that need a little more to take the edge off.

Remember that there is generally an underlying genetic predisposition to dogs presenting with fearful behaviour; however fear is a predominantly learnt behaviour – and what is learned can be unlearned. For a long term solution, desensitisation programmes can be used. Come talk to our Feilding – based Behaviour Consultant, Sandy, if you have any questions.

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