Bonfire night, and the run up to it, can be a very traumatic time for pets.  Dogs and cats have much better hearing than us and this can cause great distress for them during firework season.  Watching our pets scared or anxious is upsetting for owners too.


Symptoms of fear and anxiety

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Barking or howling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding
  • Excessive drooling
  • Trying to escape or running away
  • Passing urine and poo in inappropriate places


Common causes of fear and anxiety around this time

  • Loud noises
  • Bright flashes in the sky
  • Lots of people
  • Different smells in the air


Triage of firework fear 

Call us at PetGP if you are unsure or worried and our expert nurses will advise you on what to do next. If the situation does not merit a trip to the vet we will give advice for managing the situation at home.

If the symptoms mentioned above are caused by firework phobia, then we have a few tips that might help ease the situation:

  • Walk you dog before it gets dark and make sure your cat is indoors before the sun sets
  • Create a safe “den” for your pet, somewhere they can go and hide if they want to be on their own that is warm and dark
  • Keep your pets in a room with the lights on and curtains shut so they are less likely to be startled by the bright flashes outside
  • Keep some background noise on – the TV or radio – to help drown out the noises from outside
  • Try not to fuss your pet. Provide reassurance but don’t pick them up or cuddle them as this reinforces their fear.


Treatment of fear and anxiety around this time

If you do need to contact your vet, it is likely that treatment will involve some or all of the following.

  • Nutraceutical’s – nutritional supplements that may calm your pet
  • Pheromone diffuser, spray or collar which may make your pet feel more at ease around this time
  • A tranquiliser or sedative that will make your pet feel relaxed and sleepy for the duration of the event


Prevention of firework induced stress and anxiety

Once you realise your pet has a fear of fireworks it’s usually too late to prevent it but, with careful planning, you could make next year a calmer experience for you both!  Try using a CD that plays the noises of fireworks in the back ground in the run up to firework season. Start off quietly so the dog will hardly notice them and over the course of a few weeks increase the volume. This should help desensitise them to the loud screeches and bangs.  Use pheromone products and nutritional supplements at least 4 weeks in advance to give them the best chance of working and ensure your pet is microchipped and the details are up to date in case they do run off after a fright.

If you’re concerned that your pet has a firework phobia, then call us at PetGP and one of our highly qualified vet nurses will offer you expert advice on the issue.