As we fast approach Bonfire Night, and let’s face it, it now goes on for days, our Founder Christiana Hines, who runs our sister company Hampstead Hounds, shares her own tips for helping your pets feel safe during what can be quite a distressing time for them and their owners.
I hate roller coasters, there’s something about the whole experience that just makes me feel distressed and nervous but many of my friends just love it!
This is the same for animals when fireworks are let off. My cats don’t event flinch, but other animals really don’t like it. However, you can do lots of things to prepare.
In the first instance it’s important as a pet owner to look at your own energy. If you are anxious then it’s more likely your pet will be too. Dogs for instance can be just like their owners and will pick up on energy and take the lead. (no pun intended!). You have to be calm, and that’s not just for Bonfire Night but every day.
I’ve been asked many times if you have a dog should you have a personal fireworks display? That’s just common sense to me. If you know your dog or pet is going to freak out, then no. If you have a young puppy for instance you maybe setting yourself up for a bad evening. I would certainly recommend a properly organised display but obviously designate someone to be at home to look after your dog or other pets.
If your dog is used to staying in a crate then make it into a fun den. Cover it over with a blanket and put in lots of their favourite toys. They can then retreat to their ‘safe house’. I would also recommend you put your TV or music on a little louder than normal to muffle out the sounds of the fireworks. Close windows and blinds so they can’t see any flashing lights.
If you want, you can use Adaptil plug ins which can be used in the house to promote calmness. This is more of a chemical product but if you would like a more natural version than Pet Remedy is good. It contains Valerian essential oil, which mimics natural calming agents dogs have in their body.
One product that I know works quite well is a Thunder Coat. Something I researched when I looked after a very nervous Doberman. It’s similar to swaddling a baby. It attaches with Velcro around the body and applies gentle pressure to the torso. It hasn’t been studied a lot but it seems to calm anxiety in humans and animals and has worked with dogs that are frightened of thunder and loud noises – hence the name.
Finally, I would recommend you take your dog out for a good walk before it gets dark. Feed them earlier so they have a nice full belly which will make them relaxed and sleepy – just like us humans after a tasty Sunday roast.
And don’t panic. If they run away to find their own hiding spot in the house just leave them there. Sit by them, don’t move them, just stay quiet and speak with a gentle voice.
Have a safe and calm fireworks season!
Christiana runs a successful House Sitting and Dog and Cat Sitting/Walking service in Hampstead Village, London. Full details of our services are on this website.