Firework phobia could be a thing of the past for pet dogs according to the RSPCA, which is bracing itself for another busy bonfire night season.
The charity regularly receives more than three-quarters of all calls about fireworks in October and November, when Guy Fawkes and Diwali celebrations are in full swing.
Last year there were 326 fireworks related calls in those two months alone. That is 75% of the 436 received across the whole year.
It is a stressful time of year for pets and their owners, with an estimated 45% of dogs in the UK showing signs of fear when they hear fireworks. This means more than 3.8 million dogs could be left cowering across the UK this year.
However, the RSPCA’s chief vet James Yeates has emphasised the message that firework phobia is a treatable condition in dogs and given hope to the owners of petrified pets.
He said: “I’ve spoken to countless people during my career who say they dread bonfire night and fireworks because of the distress it causes to their animals.
“’I’ve always told them that firework phobia is a treatable condition and their animals don’t have to suffer such misery every year.
“Owners should plan ahead and speak to their vet about how to help their pets cope during the fireworks season. There are a number of therapy tools and products available, such as the Sounds Scary! CD which helps dogs learn to be less afraid of loud noises.
“This product aims to tackle the root cause of firework phobia and needs to be used well in advance of the fireworks season. There are also pheromone diffusers that can help dogs and cats feel calmer; these products should be used in conjunction with behavioural therapy so speak to your vet for more advice.”
If your pet is very fearful, your vet may refer you to a qualified animal behaviourist who will be able to advise on treating noise phobia through behavioural therapy.
“Other tips include providing constant access to safe hiding places, closing windows and curtains and turning on the radio or television to help to mask the sounds from outside and ensure your pets are better able to cope. Microchipping your pets will increase your chances of being reunited in case they escape,” added James.
With 5 November this year falling on a Tuesday, as well as Diwali celebrations from late October, it is expected that events and fireworks displays will be staggered across two or even three weeks.
James said: “We urge anyone organising a fireworks display in the coming weeks to give plenty of notice to people in the area. Most of the calls we get about fireworks relate to scared animals, so it would at least give owners the chance to prepare.
“We also appeal for organisers to show some consideration and not let off any fireworks too close to places where animals are, such as livestock in fields for example.”
He also called on people to check bonfires before lighting them to ensure there are no wild animals using them as a hiding place.
For tips on how to help your pets, as well as tips on how to keep outdoor animals safe during fireworks, visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks