NHHQ was faced with one of those revealing questions last week, posed by Offspring #1, that shows just how dysfunctional our society has become. She asked: “Whose side are you on in Fireworks Night?” It seemed strange to Offspring, in our modern day environment, that we would celebrate the DISCOVERY of a plot to blow up parliament, and not be revelling in the success of the plot itself. Therefore, she wanted to know, in our bi-partisan world – whether I was on the side of Mr Faulks or King James I. I suppose she has heard me cursing the news, politicians and our governing system so much of late, that the idea of blowing the whole lot up with a load of gunpowder should be something to be celebrated?
Fireworks night itself is a difficult one for pet owners in general. It can be a very traumatic time for our furry friends – the loud bangs, crashes and flashes are often terrifying for them, and it is hard to explain to our feline and canine buddies what we are celebrating and why (as clear from discussion with Offspring, it is hard to explain to even the most sentient being what the whole thing is about) and the events around Fireworks Night can make your pets stressed and therefore unpredictable.
There are those who believe that you can prepare your pets for Bonfire Night through a method of exposure. You can play the sound of fireworks through your computer, or on a CD whilst simultaneously comforting them. In this way they become acclimatised. However, this may not be advisable if your dog or cat is particularly sensitive to the noises. In this case, it is sensible to talk to a qualified animal behaviourist for guidance on how best to proceed.
It is always good to check that your dog is always wearing an ID-tag and a collar, and that any micro-chip details are fully up-to-date. There is always an increase in calls to the lost pet lines in Fireworks season, as distressed, usually calm dogs can become unpredictable and prone to running away in distress brought on by the noise. For further information on microchipping and registering your dog, please visit www.petlog.org.uk – the UK’s largest database for microchipped pets.
Preparation is Key
Check your local area information to find out where and when firework displays are being held so that you know when to expect the bangs and crashes. You can also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning any unofficial displays of their own to help you prepare.
Here are our top tips for what to do before the displays start:
• Make a safe space for your dog to retreat to if they feel scared. Fill it with their favourite toys, blankets and an item of your unwashed clothing to provide as much comfort as possible.
• Give your dog a long walk before sundown to make sure that they are tired and that they have done all their business.
• Fill up your dog’s bowl with cold water: anxiety can make your dog pant more, which can make them dehydrated.
• Give your dog a bowl of delicious Nature’s Harvest food a bit earlier than usual. Once the fireworks begin, you may find that the anxiety suppresses their appetite, so aim for an early dinner to get them satiated before the noise begins.
• Shut all doors and windows and draw all curtains/shut blinds etc. The more you can block out the light flashes the better, and all noise reducing measures are good. Block off the dog and cat flaps to stop pets escaping in confusion.
Here are our top tips for what to do during the fireworks:
• Distract your dog – play with them, put on the TV, play the radio
• Try to act and behave as calmly and normally as possible. Your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain happy and cheerful (unless you are usually a grumpy soul. In which case, we don’t know what to suggest.)
• If your dog comes to you for comfort, don’t ignore them. Make a fuss of them.
• Reward any calm behaviour with Nature’s Harvest dog treats
• Try not to react to the noises and flashes yourself. Their anxiety may increase if you are ooh-ing and aaahing loudly at the disturbance.
• Keep them in the house at all times.
If you’ve followed our suggestions and your dog continues to be stressed, then consult your vet. Equally, do speak to your vet before administering any remedies.
So, there you go. Fireworks Night all wrapped up. Whose side are you on? Over here we have gone all #teamFaulks….