Well, it seems like only a few weeks ago I was writing a blog about how to look after your pets in the summer heat and already we are just 50 days away
from Halloween!! So I thought it best to help everyone prepare for what is the most wonderful (although daunting for animals) time of the year
The most unsettling time for any pet during the year is bonfire night. Unfortunately these days, one nights celebrations last for about three months,
see I’m no humbug or spoil sport in anyway but to hear fireworks at this time of the year….it doesn’t half boil my blood!!
We all know the story of Guy Fawkes night, how on the 5th November 1605 a certain Guy was caught in the House of Lords guarding a cache of gunpowder,
the plan was foiled, the king was saved and hundreds of years on we celebrate this failed attempt. The gunpowder plotters were obviously not animal
So lets start with how we can look after dogs during the firework season?
So as dog owners we know not to take our dogs out on bonfire night….but as we know fireworks are set off constantly on the lead up to the main
night. It only takes one bang to startle and scare a dog and in that panic they may do a runner. This is why it is so important to get your dog
chipped so when he is found you can be re-united as soon as possible. It is an inexpensive procedure which lasts a lifetime.
It is worth checking with your local council when the planned events take place and making a note in your diary. You can also have a word with your
neighbours to see whether they are planning their own celebrations in their gardens. We know of a few clients that up and leave during bonfire
night and take their dogs to a nice retreat in the middle of the countryside – cant be bad!!
In preparation for bonfire night it might be a good idea to take the McFly CD out and try a CD of thunderstorm and firework noises (yes these do
exist.) If you play with your dog and provide toys for him during these times he may have more of a positive association with loud noises. If your
dog appears scared by these noises do not comfort them with physical affection as this will re-enforce his negative behaviour. This may not always
work but is worth a try, you can even find posts at
that you can play to your dog.
About a month before the event it may be an idea to think about how your vet can help your dog if you know the fireworks are going to be an
issue, there are many products out there to calm your pets whether it be before going into kennels or introducing a new arrival into the house.
Here at Bay Vets we stock products which can all be sold over the counter.
The Adaptil Collar is easy to use. The dog’s body temperature warms the collar and encourages the diffusion of pheromones into the local
environment. It is vital the Adaptil Collar is in close contact with the dog’s skin at all times. This comes in two sizes and is a good
option for people that have left it until last minute as these come in to effect not long after they have been fitted.
The Adaptil Diffuser is a discrete plug-in which bathes the home in a synthetic copy of the ‘canine appeasing pheromone’, a natural product
proven to comfort both puppies and adult dogs. These normally take some time to become effective in the house so we recommend getting one
fitted a month before the event.
ADAPTIL® Spray can be applied directly on bedding, inside crates, indoor kennels, or in the car, but be sure to apply without the dog in
the area to be sprayed (particularly inside the carrier or crate)
. The effects of the spray lasts for 4-5 hours.
There are also a number of over the counter supplements that can be dispensed such as Zylkene or Calmex. These are capsules and the course
can be started on the days leading up to bonfire night, they are dosed according to weight so it is important to get a weight for your dog
before you start the course.
You may have seen some dogs sporting this snazzy little number – yes in some (but not all) cases the thunder shirt can help. So imagine
you are a little crying baby (thats me watching The Green Mile) and you get wrapped up nice and snug in a blanket…how nice and
comforting does that feel? Well this is how the thunders shirt is supposed to help.
If your dog has a major anxiety issue then don’t hesitate to give one of the surgeries a call to chat about any prescription
medication that can be dispensed, these would require a vet consultation before they are dispensed to make sure they are suitable.
It may be a good idea in the lead up to create a den or safe haven for your dog, this could be anything from a blanket behind the
sofa to a full blown military base!!
It is best to prepare the den two weeks in advance so you dog can become accustomed to it. Place a crate or carrier in a quiet safe
place and cover it with blankets and towels to help block out loud noises and flashes. Fill the den with toys and treats to entice
them to use it, kong had some great toys that can be filled with treats to help keep their mind off whats going on…… from now
on I am scared of fireworks so Im going to make a den filled with duvets, chocolate, wine and my McFly dvd!!! Hehehe…
So after months of fireworks – bonfire night arrives. On the day make sure you walk your dog early in the day to relax him, the
last walk of the day should be before dusk. Again check your dogs collar/lead are fitted well to prevent any escapes as we all know
how jumpy our pets will already be.
You should try and see that your dog is cream crackered. Lots of physical exercise and of course mental stimulation (and I
don’t mean suduko) will help and your dog will need more sleep…you never know once in that den your dog may sleep right
through the events!!! Kong toys again are a great example of mental stimulation.
When it comes to supper time why not give something that will take a long time to eat such as a suitable raw meaty bone. The
chewing actions release endorphins which relax the dog.
Another idea for on the night is to stock up on action or adventure movies (any excuse to get out of watching strictly) One
with plenty of loud music, explosions, bearded men shouting ‘You Shall Not Pass,’ car chases or Bruce Willis! On the night
draw the curtains, turn up the volume, let your dog snuggle next to you on the sofa and enjoy!!
On the night a bit of Trick or Treat might help but not like these fellas above – you can distract your dog from whats
going on outside by playing!! Reward your dog for tricks whether it be with more treats or verbal praise – they will
love it. It will also help take their minds off the events happening outside!
And finally…try not to make a big fuss out of your dog if he displays signs of anxiety about the noise of the
fireworks. The more you react, the more you confirm there is something to worry about. Be as relaxed and normal as you
can be with your dog and hopefully he will mirror the mood. Never tell you dog off for showing any signs of anxiety
If none of these tips help then in the future it may be worth considering seeing a behaviourist but remember the
Bay Vets Team are here to help. We may not have the capes and special powers to cure the problem but we can
certainly point you in the right direction.
Still it could be scarier – you could get chased round by a cat on a hoover dressed as a shark!!!
Dont forget to look out for our Halloween competition coming soon to our facebook page at www.facebook.com/bayvets