Whilst we know what fireworks are and can spend a happy hour ooh-ing and aah-ing, to our pets they are a sign of danger and many animals from the smallest to the biggest will be terrified by them. Of course fireworks aren't the only source of stress for dogs, with moving house and the arrival of a new household member being top sources of trauma and stress for dogs, not to mention all the changes, visitors and new smells and sounds that the forthcoming festive season will bring.
Worryingly, a survey by natural pet health company Lintbells, found that 19% of dog owners thought that their pet spent more than 10% of their time feeling anxious, stressed or nervous. And that's under normal circumstances, without holiday travel, visitors and guests, and those pesky fireworks. This stress can be difficult for owners to handle, and we can often feel useless in the face of our dogs' distress. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the stress of fireworks season and those other fear-inducing events.
To begin helping your dog yourself at home, remember his essential needs first:
- Good food, the best you can afford
- High quality treats that can help boost your dog's vitamin and mineral levels
- Exercise, at least twice a day
- Play, with you as well as on his own
- Comfort, blankets, beds and cuddles are essential!
Improving all of the above will help your dog whatever his or her stress levels, but to help reduce stress even more, Lintbells has launched YuCALM Dog, a new, natural supplement that helps dogs to feel happier and calmer. Once calm and relaxed, other training-based interventions can help boost your dog's happiness levels. YuCALM Dog can also be used in the short term to combat the stress associated with a specific trigger event, for example firework season, travel or the Christmas festivities and the disruptions to routine they cause.
You can find out more in this video:
If problems continue, or your dog experiences severe behaviour problems such as a firework phobia or general extreme nervousness, consult an accredited pet behaviourist or vet. Lintbells vet James Howie commented:
"The first thing to understand is that noise phobias don’t get better with time – in fact in most cases the fearful reaction will become worse year on year. There are techniques that can be used to help support your dog through fireworks season. Using supplements and other aids can keep dogs relaxed enough to accept these techniques without feeling too anxious. It’s vital to involve the experts, though, to make sure you help your dog learn new habits that will stick and that you lower anxiety effectively."
YuCALM Dog is available from veterinary practices, pet shops and online retailers. You can find out more on the Lintbells website, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. For specialist help, call the experienced advisers on the Lintbells team on 01462 416866.
Read on for Lintbells top 10 dos and don'ts for pet owners this fireworks season...
Lintbells Top 10 Dos and Don’ts for Pet Owners this Firework Season
1. DO keep your dog safe indoors and ensure they have identification such as a registered microchip and a collar with a disc including your up-to-date contact details.
2. DO provide a safe hiding place indoors, such as a tent or pet bed in a quiet, secluded part of the house.
3. DO act calmly and normally yourself, as providing too much fuss can reinforce the idea that there is something to be afraid of.
4. DO make sure the environment is safe if your dog starts to react in an uncharacteristic way.
5. DON'T keep the house in silence, turning on a radio or TV can help mask the noise of fireworks.
6. DON'T leave your dog alone at night if at all possible - it’s estimated that up to 80% of dogs suffer from some form of separation anxiety when their owners are absent.
7. DO draw the curtains or blinds and if necessary drape over additional fabric to muffle noise and flashes of light.
8. DO take your dog for a long walk during the day so they are more likely to rest or sleep in the evening.
9. DO think about using a supplement or other aid to help your dog feel calm and relaxed.
10. DO ask your vet or certified animal behaviourist for advice about longer term training which can include desensitisation (helping your dog to become accustomed to triggers over time by slowly building up their exposure) and counter conditioning (helping your dog to start associating a fearful event with positives rather than negatives).
Follow these top tips and you'll have a calm and happy dog this fireworks season, and beyond.