VET’s VIEW: Keep your dog calm in the fireworks season

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It used to be that the start of the autumn term prompted some stores to bring out their Christmas wares.

Nowadays, we are more likely to find Halloween goods on display first.

Personally I find even that too far ahead to contemplate, but for our pets it can be really helpful to look ahead to another celebration – Bonfire Night.

Every year vets receive dozens of calls from pet owners whose dogs are distressed by the bangs and whooshes of fireworks.

While we can prescribe calming tranquillisers, it is not an ideal solution, especially when the celebrations can be spread over several weeks, so now might be the time to start thinking about how you can help your pet adapt to the noise.

It is worth mentioning that if your pet has a severe noise phobia, reacting not just to fireworks, but to all manner of sharp noises and taking a long time to recover, then you probably need professional help from a pet behaviourist; ask your vet to recommend one to you.

But milder fears can be addressed at home, using some excellent free downloadable resources that are available on the Dogs Trust website (www.dogstrust.org.uk – look under Help and Advice, Dog Behaviour and Health).

The ‘Sounds Scary’ programme has been developed by veterinary surgeons Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen and consists of a series of sound clips with various firework noises, along with other noises such as thunder and gunshot, and a booklet explaining how to use them effectively.

Some clients have told me their dogs can distinguish between the recorded noises and the real thing, so this could be a good time to treat yourself to that new sound system you’ve been promising yourself.

At least you could put it on your Christmas list!

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