AS we approach the firework season, spare a thought for those animals that are petrified by the flashes and bangs.
It’s a common problem, and dogs in particular can develop phobias to the loud noises.
It’s well recognised that early exposure to such stimuli as part of a puppy’s socialisation programme can make a real difference.
Even when dogs are older, desensitisation programmes, which include playing recordings of firework noises
to your dog and not over-reacting yourself can be beneficial.
Nonetheless, some animals do seem to have an innate fear of bangs, and if your pet has an established phobia, it is more likely to benefit from some fuss and reassurance once the fireworks start.
What else can you do?
Well, it helps to walk your dog while it’s light and then give them a good meal to help them settle down for the evening.
Draw the curtains, and turn on the radio or television to help drown out any noises.
Your dog may appreciate a dark place to hide away, but don’t confine them or leave them alone as this may induce panic.
What about other pets?
Cats, too, are best kept indoors, and if you have smaller pets outside, consider moving them to a more sheltered spot, or at least muffling the sleeping quarters against noise and flashes.
Your veterinary practice can help by providing you with resources to help desensitise your dog, and may recommend you to an animal behaviourist.
There are over-the-counter preparations that have a calming effect on your pet, as well as prescription medications that can be given.
Do remember though, that with all these approaches the sooner you start, the better the results are likely to be.
It’s much harder to calm an animal once they have become frightened, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.