Keeping your pets calm this Guy Fawkes

It’s not all about crackles and booms, and the chances are your pet will suffer from some degree of anxiety and fear during Guy Fawkes’ night.

With more than 60 per cent of the population owning a cat or dog, New Zealand ranks second-highest in pet ownership per capita across the globe, beaten only by the United States.

However, for the majority of pets in New Zealand, as well as their owners, the Guy Fawkes celebrations can cause a severe amount of stress.

Numerous organisations, including the New Zealand Veterinary Association and Wellington SPCA, have called for public firework sales to stop.

Dr Warren Stroud of Animates Vetcare has provided some top tips to help reduce the stress that fireworks can have on your pet. 

Try walking your dog earlier in the evening to tire them out, and keep your pets inside with their bed and favourite toys close and the curtains closed.

Feed them before the fireworks start. A full stomach should help them relax and make them sleepy.

If your pets wants to hide, that’s fine. Create a ‘den’ of favourite blankets and toys to provide a safe place. Turn on music or the TV to disguise the noise. 

Keep your feline friend inside by keeping their cat door locked.

Ensure your pet is microchipped and has a collar and an ID tag, in case they run from your property when they are scared.

For small pets and birds, partially cover their cages or enclosures with a blanket.

“The startling lights and sporadic bursts of sound that come with fireworks can be very frightening for any animal,” says Dr Stroud, “so it’s important to take some preventative measures. 

“For example, it’s an animal’s natural instinct to hide, so getting them inside and creating a ‘den’ will help them feel safe”.

In addition to the above tips, Warren says cautious pet owners can also refer to range of products from Animates specifically designed to comfort pets during times of stress. 

Adaptil collars, sprays and diffusers release a synthetic version of a natural pheromone creating a calming and comforting effect on dogs and puppies in stressful situations, such as storms and noisy fireworks.

Feliway is the feline equivalent of Adaptil, and is safe to use for both cats and kittens. 

The ‘Thundershirt’ is an ingeniously simple device - a tight-fitting shirt provides a gentle, constant pressure that has a calming effect for most pets if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited. 

For pets with severe anxiety, please make an appointment with your vet who can prescribe antianxiety medication if required.