Why are some animals more sensitive to fireworks then others?
Animal’s hearing is a lot more sensitive than ours in both volume and range, this is necessary for their hunting abilities. Some animals will be so sensitive to this that they may develop a phobia towards loud noise; this may be towards traffic noise, gun shots, helicopters, flocks of birds, shouting and even household noises such as the hoover or washing machine. If your pet already acts, scared in any way to any of these, they are more likely to suffer from a phobia towards fireworks.
Signs of stress can include the following
Shaking, hiding, seeking constant attention, whining, growling, depressed attitude, restlessness, panting, destructive behavior, aggressive behavior, dilated pupils, glazed expression, holding of ears flat back to the animal’s head, drooling excessively.
Treating noise phobias
If your pet shows signs of being fearful of fireworks there are steps that you can take to try to minimize the stress involved.
This is possibly the most important as with any noise phobia Exposing your pet to noises at an early age will familiarise them with unpredictable loud noises.
Ignore any fearful behavior. If you react to any outside noise, raise your voice or constantly reassure your pet then you could be praising and exaggerating the phobia.
Instigate some playtime when the noises start, this may distract your pet from what is going on outside.
Praise any good behavior if your dog or cat is showing no signs of fear. Give them a treat or attention this way you will be reinforcing what good behavior is.
Exercise your dog before it gets dark so that they are not unnecessarily exposed to a fearful situation. Keep your cat in, with a litter tray, before it gets dark for the same reason. Cover the cages of all of your smaller pets this will help them feel secure and they will settle down.
If you find that your dog needs to go outside to the toilet then put him on a lead, this will reassure him that you are close by and also stop him from running off if in a panic.
Feed your pet before it gets dark. Having a full stomach naturally makes an animal feel more relaxed and calmer.
Close any curtains, blinds and windows before it gets dark. This will stop your pet from seeing the bright lights as well as muffling some of the noise.
Play some music or turn the television up a fraction, this will also help to muffle the noises from outside.
Create a comfort zone for your pet.
Cats will often take themselves away to a dark corner and if you cat does this then make that area comfortable by placing his or her bed in that area. Dogs they will often try to hide in places they won’t fit into out of fear,: If you have a dog crate then set this up and have it in place for a few weeks before firework night so that they can get used to it; fill it with some of your dog's favorite toys. If your pet doesn’t want to stay in his or her comfort zone but would rather lay at your feet then allow this to happen if you start to force your pet into a place they don’t want to go this can make them more anxious and inflame the condition.
Try not to leave your pets alone especially dogs as they can be unpredictable and can become destructive when stressed.
The use of a synthetic appeasing pheromone such as D.A.P for dogs (this releases a synthetic copy of the pheromone that is released by a nursing bitch) or Feliway for cats (which releases a synthetic copy of a feline facial pheromone used by cats to mark their environment). These have been proven to reduce stress induced by fireworks. These should be in place at least 2 weeks before the fireworks start.
Sedatives are best avoided as they may calm your pet down but do not reduce the stress that they experience. If this is a route that you would like to consider then book an appointment with one of our veterinary surgeons.
Sound therapy. This is achieved with the use of CDs that you can play throughout the year, they have noises such as fireworks, gun shots and other common noises which can induce stress in pets; these programmes need to be started prior to firework night so that the animal has a chance to become desensitized to the noise.
Behavioral treatment some animals suffer such high levels of stress that they need to have a behavioral assessment and behavioral treatment as necessary if this is a route that you would like to explore then please speak to either Heather Woodley or Gemma Bryant who both have an interest in animal behavior.
One other point is to ensure that your pet has a collar and tag on as if they do get anxious and run away they can then be reunited with you. Having your pet mircochipped is a valuable option. If you wish to have your pet microchipped which is a form of permanent identification then please book an appointment with one of our nursing staff.