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How to calm your dog on Bonfire Night – See the top tips UK News

If you’re one of those pet owners who are dreading the loud noises that come hand in hand with November 5, we might have some answers for you.

Animal behaviourist, Dr Tammie King, has shared some key advice for owners about the best ways to take care of their pets over the fireworks weekend

Teaming up with Forbes Advisor, a financial guidance and price comparison platform, the partnership has answered some of the most searched questions to shed some much-needed light on how to protect your pooch’s well-being this Bonfire Night.

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Simon Hayes, vet and primary care medical director of Linnaeus veterinary practices, said: “This is the most challenging time of year for pet owners, as there are so many potential triggers of stress in animals coming up over the next few months.

“There are the bangs of fireworks, the noisy and hectic festive season, including unfamiliar faces and smells, all of which can cause stress in our pets.

“And, while some owners will seek guidance and advice, we also know there are many others pets who will just suffer through this period.

“Whether it’s trick-or-treaters knocking on doors, Bonfire Night revellers letting off fireworks, or further seasonal celebrations up until Christmas and the New Year, autumn and winter can be an anxious time of year for many pets, and not just dogs.”

Why are dogs scared of fireworks?

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There are a few very clear reasons why dogs tend to be scared of fireworks.

For one thing, they hear at four times the distance of humans as well as at a much higher frequency.

Dr Tammie King, Mars Petcare animal behaviourist, explains: “In addition to more sensitive hearing compared to humans, they will not be able to recognise the source of the sound, which can result in fear and anxiety.

“Some pets may also have negative associations with loud noises or have had a bad experience in the past and have since developed a generalised fear of other loud noises.

“On the flipside, it could be that they’ve had limited exposure to loud noises, while others have a genetic predisposition for high sensitivity.”

While some breeds have a higher disposition to noise phobias, not all dogs are affected by fireworks.

Dr King added: “It is important to point out that not all pets are frightened by loud noises. Behaviour is influenced by genetics, past experiences, and the current environment/situation.

“For example, herding dog breeds tend to be over-represented in my experience.”

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Is fireworks anxiety unique to dogs or can cats be affected?

The short answer is no – fireworks anxiety can affect both cats and dogs.

But how cats exhibit these anxiety symptoms is often different to their canine counterparts.

Dogs tend to show their distress in a much more visible way, an owner might not realise the extent of the anxiety their cat is experiencing.

For example, cats by nature tend to hide when they are stressed.

Dog fireworks anxiety symptoms

If your dog is experiencing fireworks anxiety, you may see them exhibiting one or more of these symptoms over the next week in response to the fireworks:

  • Brow furrowed or ears back
  • Cowering
  • Excessive alertness or hypervigilance
  • Excessive clinginess
  • Hiding
  • Lip licking
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Panting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Whining or barking

What helps dogs with fireworks anxiety?

Every year, vets treat animals across the UK for fireworks-related injuries, according to the British Veterinary Association. 

The most reported cases were self-injuries caused by fireworks-related anxiety which includes the likes of tooth-related injuries from dogs chewing furniture.

The good news is, there is plenty that you can do to help your four-legged friend out.

Firstly, Dr King recommends thinking about the long-term solution rather than just a quick fix when it comes to fireworks.

Dr King explained: “The goal is to expose them to very low levels of the stimulus, so they notice it but don’t react adversely while pairing it with something pleasurable like a fun game or food.

“Then over time, gradually increase the intensity of the stimulus so it no longer elicits a fearful response.

“It is important that this is tightly controlled to ensure the pet doesn’t exceed the threshold at which they start to exhibit behaviour related to fear and anxiety. Also that it is carried out at a time when there are no fireworks or other loud noises occurring.

“If done correctly, this can improve the welfare of pets who previously have exhibited fear or anxiety to loud noises.

“Essentially, the programme pairs something the pet considers positive with the fear-eliciting stimulus, such as a sound recording of fireworks exploding.

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This notice was published: 2023-11-03 11:13:25

By Times Series

Times Series, The News from the London borough of Barnet, and Borehamwood & Elstree.

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