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A Lesson With Laura – Is it too early to be thinking about fireworks?

By Ash Tree Vets | 28th March 2019

The short answer is no!

Those of you whose pets are afraid of fireworks know how upsetting and  stressful it can be for your pet between the months of November and January when fireworks can seemingly go off at any time. Pacing, shaking and hiding are all common symptoms a dog or cat might display when afraid, Dogs may also pant, dig or salivate excessively. Some pets will recover fairly quickly from the fearful episode and seem to go back to normal very soon after the noises have stopped, whereas others might remain in a fearful state for quite some time.

Although it might seem a bit early to be thinking about fireworks night, but this is actually the best time to start a treatment programme for firework fear.

Many of you will be aware of the products designed to help your pet ‘short term’ with fireworks, such as pheromone diffusers, calming sprays and herbal remedies, and these certainly do have their place in the treatment of firework fear. However, these really are only a short term solution, designed to help your pet at the time of the fearful experience only. Long term treatment plans are far more beneficial and successful for your pet as they can change the way that your pet feels about the ‘scary’ noises; and in some cases can help your pet to completely overcome their fear of fireworks.

Now is the time of year to start a long-term treatment plan for firework fear, with plenty of time to work through a treatment plan before this year’s fireworks start.

The long term treatment plan for fear of fireworks involves the use of two behaviour modification techniques; Desensitisation (gradually getting your pet used to something) and Counter Conditioning (pairing the previously scary thing with something your pet loves, such as food). This is done through the use of a specialist CD with recorded firework noises. The treatment involves playing the noises at a very low level first of all until your dog is comfortable with them and then gradually increasing the volume, usually over a period of a number of weeks. We then pair the noises with something that your pet loves such as a special food treat or a game with a toy.

We stock the Clix sound for life CD’s here at the practice or alternatively Dogs Trust have the digital version free to download on their website.

We strongly recommend that you seek advice from a professional before you start the training programme as this approach may not be suitable for your pet.

To find out more information on how this type of training programme may be able to help your pet overcome their fear of fireworks please contact the surgery to arrange a FREE initial consultation, or why not come to our FREE client evening? Click here to find out more.