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Preparing for Fireworks season: Tips on how to help your pet

Fireworks season can be a stressful time for many, with over 40% of dogs and high population of cats in the UK suffering from a fear of fireworks.

Here are some ideas to help your pets during this time:
  • Keep them indoors prior to when the fireworks are due to start.
  • Keep all doors and windows securely closed.
  • Make sure curtains are pulled closed to muffle the sound and block the light from the fireworks.
  • Keep internal doors open so they don’t feel enclosed.
  • Put the TV, radio or music on to provide background noise. It is advised to start this before the fireworks start.
  • Ensure your pet has a safe place to go when they feel distressed, this may be their own bed, or create a den.
  • Take your dog for a walk earlier in the day before the fireworks start and kept on the lead at all times.
  • Provide your cat with a litter tray if they are used to toileting outdoors.
  • Feed them their usual meal before the fireworks are due to start.
  • Ensure your pet is wearing an ID tag or microchip details are up to date in such case that they do run away or manage to escape.
  • Absolutely avoid any form of punishment. This will simple lead to more anxiety and even cause your pet to become aggressive.
  • Comforting you animal when they are scared is a controversial area. Definitely try to be at home during any known firework events. Although you shouldn’t pet or over fuss your animal when they are worried, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour, it may help some pets to hold them firmly and lean into them, while using long, form massaging strokes, rather than normal petting.
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2020 Veterinary Awards – Now Open!

It’s that time of year again that the Pet Plan Veterinary Awards are open for nominations.

These awards were started to celebrate the hard work and dedication of all the veterinary staff across United Kingdom. They aim to recognise those who inspire clients and colleagues with their commitment and passion to the industry.

Do you feel one of our staff members has gone above and beyond for you and your pet?

Has our practice made you and your pet feel welcome and relaxed even at those stressful times?

The categories for these awards include:
  • Practice of the Year
  • Vet of the Year
  • Veterinary Nurse of the Year
  • Practice Manager of the Year
  • Practice Support Staff of the Year
Nominations can be made by visiting https://www.petplan.co.uk/about-petplan/vets/awards/
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Preparing our pets for Firework season: Top tips for small pets

Our small pets can get stressed too during the fireworks season. Here are some signs to look out for and what we can do to help them!

Signs your small furry may be distressed:
  • Stamping their hind legs
  • Unwilling to move
  • Trying to escape from their accommodation
What can we do to help our small furries during this frightful time?
  • Ideally the best scenario during this season, is to bring their accommodation inside. However that isn’t always possible but moving them into your garage or shed will provide some soundproofing. If none of these are available then partly cover the hutch or cage with blankets.
  • If you have a house rabbit or you can move your pets inside, close the windows and draw the curtains.
  • Provide some background noise such as TV or radio. It is wise to start doing these before the fireworks season.
  • Within their accommodation, make sure there are hiding places your pet can utilise to make them feel safe with plenty of bedding. More bedding will also help minimise the noise.
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Preparing our pets for Fireworks season: Pheromones and Medications

Various medications are available to reduce our pets’ anxieties. These medications are used alongside a behaviour modification plan such as the desensitisation and counter conditioning described in our previous posts, and need to be started weeks or months prior to the fireworks starting. Often at the hospital we asked at the last minute to supply something to help to calm pets. Medications are available that reduce anxiety in the short term, and will help at the time but have no lasting effect – your pet will again suffer with the same fears next year. A key point for owners is not to be scared to use these drugs. By not medicating animals when appropriate we may be simply prolonging their suffering.

Pheromone treatments area available such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats. These are available as a plug-in, collar and now a tablet and may help some animals, but not all. Dietary supplements such as omega-3 supplements, zylkene and calmex again may help some dogs with mild phobias.

It is now possible to purchase a tight fighting wrap such as an Anxiety Wrap which is design to apply constant pressure to help relax muscles. Studies suggest these may help some, but not all, dogs. They are available through www.anxietywrap.com.
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Preparing our pets for Fireworks season: Counterconditioning

Following on from our previous blog regarding desensitisation in preparation for the fireworks season and once this desensitisation stage is completed. We can adapt this to include the counterconditioning process, by which we make a positive association to the sounds your pet is sensitive to.

This can be done by providing rewards whilst playing the sounds your pet is sensitive to, in order to start to reinforce positivity with these sounds. Each time the volume is increased and they settled, they are rewarded. Make sure these are rewards that your pet really likes! These processes do require time to counteract these behaviours.

If you have any further questions regarding the fireworks season please do not hesitate to contact us.
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