Firework season might be a fun and exciting time for lots of people, but many dog owners dread it. Every year, social media is flooded with reports and videos of dogs who are terrified by the loud booms and bangs.
Although dog owners are powerless when it comes to stopping firework displays, there are measures you can take to help your dog deal with fireworks. Dave Tweedle, a veterinary surgeon from My Family Vets, talks us through his top tips for dealing with fireworks.
Walk your dog before dark
When the clocks go back, it’s easy to get caught out by just how quickly it gets dark. This might mean a change to your dog-walking routine, whether that means a walk before work or a lunchtime stroll.
You’re much less likely to hear fireworks during the day, although it isn’t out of the question. It's a good idea to keep dogs on the lead during the run-up to Firework Night, just in case they are spooked by a loud noise and bolt.
Stay inside with your dog
Make sure all of your doors and windows are securely closed, that way, your dog won’t be able to run away into danger if they panic. Instead of going out, stay home with your dog. Being alone whilst firework displays are happening can be really scary for dogs, and they’d really appreciate your company.
Try to drown out fireworks by turning up the tv or putting on loud music and closing the curtains. There are plenty of playlists and podcasts that are specially designed to comfort dogs in stressful scenarios. If you’re planning on going out, try and arrange for someone with who your dog is familiar to come over to be with them.
Make sure your dog’s microchip details are up to date
If you’ve recently moved or changed your phone number, remember to update your dog’s microchip details. You can update your contact information by calling the microchip company that you registered your dog with.
You should find this information with your pet’s paperwork but if you can’t, contact your vet – they can help. Read My Family Vets guide to microchipping your dog.
Create a safe space
Set up a dedicated space for your pooch to feel safe, where they know that no one will disturb them.
This might be their crate, or it might be a space they gravitate towards when they are feeling overwhelmed. Wherever it is, make their safe space with lots of blankets and remember to keep the door open so that they can come in and out as they please.
Don't smother your dog
Although it might seem like the best thing to do to comfort your dog, avoid showering them with affection. You don’t want to make your dog feel restricted or claustrophobic. Let them come to you and if your dog is settled and calm whilst fireworks are going off, be sure to praise them.
Consider natural calming aids
This may take some preparation but if administered correctly, calming aids can really help you reduce your dog’s feelings of stress. We recommend Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety. If you’re unsure, ask your vet about the most suitable products for your dog.
Use sound therapy
Sound therapy can be used to desensitise your dog to firework noises. Start off by playing firework sounds at a low volume and (providing your dog isn’t responding negatively) gradually increase the volume and the amount of time they listen to it.
Take your time and be patient; if your pet shows any signs of distress, stop the noises for that day and begin again the following day with a lower volume.