Remember, remember, it’s not just the fifth of November these days!

Remember, remember, it’s not just the fifth of November these days!

We can officially buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on these dates: 15 October to 10 November. 26 to 31 December. 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year. At other times of the year they are available from licensed sellers. Whatever way people get hold of them they are not the kind of thing most pets would put at the top of their shopping lists.

According to a PDSA report around 40% of our animals find this time of year incredibly stressful and upsetting, some dogs will rip wallpaper off the walls, horses kept outside can bolt and cats can end up running into danger. So how do we protect our pets?

Firstly we need to be aware if our pets have previously shown symptoms of distress or if they are new to us watch out for the common signs. As pets get older or if they develop a chronic health condition such as arthritis they may become more fearful when previously they have ignored loud noises. The Blue Cross and PDSA provide some useful guides including lists of symptoms:

Dogs:

  • Trembling and shaking
  • Clinging to owners
  • Excessive barking
  • Cowering and hiding behind furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Going to the toilet in the house
  • Pacing and panting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Destructive behaviour (chewing furniture etc.)

Rabbits:

  • Stamping hind feet
  • Staying motionless
  • Trying to escape

Cats:

  • Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Going to the toilet around the house, instead of outside or in their litter box
  • Refusing to eat

Horses:

  • Tail swishing.
  • Vocalisation.
  • Pawing.
  • Sweating.
  • Repetitive head movements.
  • Kicking.
  • Flared nostrils.
  • Decreased appetite

What can you do to keep them calm?

The more you can prepare ahead the better, early socialisation and desensitising may work well in 60% of cases but for those pets that are truly upset it will take some forward planning based on their individual needs. Your vet can give you good advice if you need to use a calming medication or supplement, there are plenty on the market but to work at their best the roducts usually need introducing a few days or even weeks ahead.

For all pets familiar and comfortable surroundings with their usual company helps keep the time as normal as possible.  Horses may need you to stay with them if there are displays nearby. It is most important that we stay calm and avoid jumping at the sound of any bangs or hand over the calm patrol to someone who doesn’t find the whole business just as stressful as the animals.

Keeping the TV or some other sound system on for the duration, curtains closed, your company and a safe place they can retreat to will help house pets in most cases. Dogs like to hide in a den so be aware of their favourite hiding place – it might be under the table or a favourite corner. Cats tend to take to high places so check the breakables on top of the bookcase! Lock the cat flap and keep kitty inside and don’t walk your dog after dark, but if you must do NOT let them off the lead.

Consider bringing animals that are kept outside in hutches inside the house or an outbuilding, again with some distracting sound to mask the bangs.

Trick or Treat?

Constant door knocking and bells with excited squeals will probably upset the calmest of dogs and even the deaf ones may sense something going on so keep the outside lights off and curtains drawn so you don’t invite unwanted callers. In theory they should only approach houses with a lit pumpkin, but some kids don’t follow the rues.

Talk to your neighbours

If your neighbours are likely to do some ‘trick or treating’ or have a bonfire party let them know in advance that you have an anxious pet so they can let you know in advance of any potential noises and can also avoid visiting you at Hallowe’en.

Hopefully our pets will survive the noise and just settle down for extra cuddles and treats.