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O' Halloran Hill Vet Centre

Thunderstorm & Firework Anxiety In Dogs

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Fireworks and pets can be a frightening combination. As celebrations are underway and your social calendars are filling, fireworks are often the main attraction. Whenever I hear them, my instant thought is, how many pets are fretting right now? Many pets have a fear of fireworks and, for them, this time of year can be terrifying. Here are a few tips to help your pet cope with fireworks and loud noises.

  • Be prepared. Make sure you know if fireworks are planned in nearby community areas. This gives you to chance to ensure your pet is safe before they begin. If your pet is on prescribed medication for anxiety, being prepared will help keep your pet calm.

  • Create a safe space in your house that your dog likes to be in. It may take a few goes at finding the right space, but often a spot against an internal wall or perhaps under a table can work well, but ensure the space is also near you. We recommend ensuring this space is inside to reduce your dog's fear and anxiety, especially if you won’t be home to help distract them.

  • Ensure you ‘Soothe', cuddle, reassure and console your pet if they come looking for you. Long gone is the myth about “rewarding” fear behaviour. In their latest public webinar, SA behaviour specialists, AVBS, says “it is not possible to reinforce fear by being kind and comforting. If your dog seeks out interaction with you, you should comfort them”. If you had a child or best mate suffering an anxiety or panic attack, you would do anything to help them through, the same goes for our pets. If your pet doesn't seek you out and prefers to hide away, that is okay too. Just be there in a way your pet needs – you know them best!

  • Be the strength your pet needs. Even if seeing your dog distressed makes you stressed too, remember that showing a calm, confident manner helps your dog to feel reassured. I know this one might be tough, but you can do it!

  • Distract your pet with noise from the TV or radio. Even picking up their favourite toy and playing with them, can also help to reduce their anxiety. Distractions work best before your dog gets too worked up. Once the anxiety sets in, food and toys are usually ignored.

Keeping Them Safe:

The festive season is notorious for unplanned / backyard fireworks, so you may not always be home to help your pet though. In these cases, it’s also important to prepare for the worst.

  • Ensure there are no escape holes, or ways out, over and under fences

  • Ensure safety films cover windows

  • Doors need to be solid or protected by a security door

  • Keep your pets microchip details up to date

What Else Can You Do?

If it breaks your heart to see your pet silently suffering from an anxiety disorder, there are several things we can do. Desensitisation, Anxiety and Panic medication and behavioural training are a few things that work wonders. To get an individualised plan for your pet, book an appointment today. 

 

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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033