… or perhaps we should call it firework season. It does seem to go on for a lot longer than just November 5th. Loud bangs, that are hallmark of most fireworks, are dreaded by many dog and they can become quite destructive in their panic.
Trying to prepare a home to be ready for the loud bangs of bonfire night is a problem as our households often reflect the sounds that enter them. This is the result of the move away form thick carpet to wooden-style flooring, blinds instead of curtains and less wallpaper in favour of painted surfaces. Now it isn’t the plan to request that all dog and cat owners re-decorate in the run up to bonfire night. For even the most committed of pet owner, that is asking a bit too much! But a version of this in the form of a “den” just may be all a dog needs by way of security. Typically this can be a cupboard under the stairs (assuming you have one!). Packing this area with coats/blankets is an ideal refuge where a frightened pet can seek a quiet place to hide. Keeping the door open to the den in the run up to the main event is important as it allows a dog to explore the new surroundings. For those houses and flats not blessed with an under-stairs cupboard a simple alternative can be to drape towels or blankets off the back of a settee and line this area with the same. Again, allowing time for a pet to become accustomed to the refuge is important. If a dog is already happy using a crate then there’s the ready made “den”. All that’s needed is a few extra bits of insulation in the form of coats, towels, blankets or just about any sound-deadening fabric you can think of.
What about medication?
For years all we had to help a pet in terms of medication through this problem period were the “little yellow tablets” – ACP. This is a pre-medicant, something that’s given before an anaesthetic as a version of a knock-out drop. Whilst in certain instances this may seem exactly what’s needed, it actually just renders a dog incapable of responding – the fear and anxiety is still present. It’s just that the poor pet can’t signal its terror.
Fortunately there are now a number of much more useful supportive therapies that help to reduce the anxiety that a pet may feel during the bonfire night frights. On their own though they will have much less effect than if the refuge/hiding place approach is created for a dog as well. We are here at this time of year to advise about the best approach in terms of supportive therapies.
Riverside Veterinary Centre, Loxley Road, Stratford upon Avon