One of my favourite celebration days is Guy Fawkes Day. I've always loved watching the pretty displays and hearing the booms - especially the mortars you can get in the USA for Independence Day: they're enough to wake the neighbours. So I'm told...
But what about our furbabies? If yours are anything like my cat and dog, come the 5th of November, they'll be hiding under the bed, quivering wide-eyed beneath the table and pretty much looking like this precious pooch above.
I asked my friends at the SPCA Hastings & Districts for some ideas on how we can care for our pets: we must have been on the same wavelength because they'd recently posted an article by Sharon Marshall on the same topic. Reposted here with permission.
Yes, that time of year is coming up again. Inevitably, we shall have loud bangs and bright lights going off for weeks, at all hours of the night. Some will participate, some will talk about banning it (again), but all of us will spend anxious hours worried about our pets. And rightly so. Many pets have a genuine phobia (something which is irrational but not of their control) of the flashing lights and loud noises which makes fireworks season the worst time of year for our pets. Unfortunately, it often seems to be a season, not just a single day. So what can we do about it?
It’s all in the planning. So here is my quick list with tips to help your pets get through Guy Fawkes (and beyond).
• Be aware whether your pet has issues with fireworks. How did they respond last year? It’s likely to be worse each year.
• Talk to your vet about medication that can assist with phobias. This can include herbal sedatives, calming agents, and some drug relaxants. Of course, which one is right will depend on your pet, which is why you need to speak to your vet.
• There are also diffuser products like Feliway and Adaptil, which are pheromones that plug into a power point and assst with reducing responses to fear. Again, talk to your vet about these.
• You can do some de-sensitisation (by using the ‘Sounds Scary’ CD programme for example) but this will take time and commitment.
• Prepare for the day itself. Make sure you have a space where your pet can hide that is least exposed to the noises and lights. Start placing your pet in this spot well before the night so it feels familiar. Include familiar things like toys, bedding, a jersey of yours etc.
• On the night. Stay at home. Feed them a little earlier in the day than normal as they often won’t eat when scared. Get cats inside well before sunset and keep them there. If you’re giving medications, ensure they are given well before the fireworks start. Play the radio as a distraction (something calm and soothing). Act natural. Your pets will pick up vibes from you, so if you’re anxious, this will increase their anxiety. Get them into their ‘happy place’ that you have set up. Pat them if they respond to this, leave them alone if they don’t. Do not force them to ‘face their fears’; this doesn’t help and can make the phobia worse.
If you have a young animal that doesn’t have a fireworks phobia, some of these steps may help prevent one developing, and remember, they will pick up on your vibes, so act natural.
I would also encourage everyone to protest against Guy Fawkes by boycotting any private events. We want to spread the message that this is not okay for our pets. We all enjoy fireworks but let’s do this as a single, public, planned event on selected nights, so that the mental anguish is limited to a very short period and can be better prepared for.