We are lucky enough in Canberra to enjoy fireworks at many events! But the fun and frivolity is often lost on our pets! Some of them find fireworks to be downright terrifying and distressing. Pets with thunderstorm phobia will often fine fireworks just as scary and their anxiety can worsen with each exposure. The last thing you want is your pet shaking and scared and anxious. The ACT veterinary community will be bracing as Canberra celebrates!

There are a range of different techniques that you can use to teach your dog or cat that fireworks and thunderstorms are no cause for alarm. One key element is the use of pheromone products: ADAPTIL® for dogs and Feliway® for cats.

Pheromones are chemical signals that animals use to communicate to one another.  ADAPTIL® contains Dog Appeasing Pheromone, which is a synthetic copy of the natural appeasing pheromone that puppies are exposed to after birth when feeding from their mother.  When used on any age dog it mimics the properties of this natural reassuring signal, thus reducing anxiety and preventing fear and stress related behaviours.  ADAPTIL® is scientifically proven to reduce the intensity of fear felt by a dog during firework exposure.

Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the natural feline facial pheromone used by cats use to mark their environment as safe and familiar.  When used in the home it signals to cats that they are in a secure environment. Feliway® is scientifically proven to reassure cats and may help to reduce fearful reactions to loud noises and prevent stress due to indoor confinement.

Pheromones are very useful in lowering the level of anxiety and distress your pet experiences and helping them to learn that fireworks and thunderstorms are not the end of the world! Combined with other techniques, even the most fearful pet can reach a place of relaxed tolerance.

Follow these ten top tips to further help your pet cope with firework fears:

1)     Ensure your pet is safely inside and secure doors, windows and cat flaps.

2)     Allow your dog or cat to hide in a cubby hole or den where they feel safe.  You can further increase this feeling of security by plugging in an ADAPTIL® or Feliway® diffuser.

3)     Speak to your vet about  ADAPTIL® or Feliway® spray; this can be sprayed onto a bandana tied around your dog’s neck or on your dog or cats bedding to give them additional support. For dogs, a long acting collar is also available.

4)     Speak to vet about any further medications that may help ease the anxiety.

5)     Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped.  If they do escape, frightened animals can easily get lost.

6)     In the few days before fireworks, ensure dogs are used to be taken for a walk early in the evening and cats have litter trays.

7)     Close all doors, windows and draw the curtains, play music and / or have the tv on to help mask the noise of fireworks.

8)     Comfort your pet in a reasonable manner and promote calm behaviour by displaying calm behaviour yourself.  Cats prefer to be left to cope on their own.

9)     Don’t get cross with or punish your pet, regardless of their behaviour, as it will only make them more distressed.

10)     Try not to leave your pet alone when fireworks are going off.  Pets may hurt themselves or cause damage when not supervised.

Watch the following youtube video about Pets and Fireworks fears.

After the fireworks season speak to your vet about treatment for fear of fireworks.  ADAPTIL® and sound desensitisation CDs have been scientifically proven to be an effective combination for treating firework phobias in dogs.  Your may also wish to refer you to a qualified veterinary behaviourist.

Imagine being able to curl up on the couch with your relaxed and happy pet for a cuddle, a good movie and red wine [or treat of your choice!] while a storm rages outside. With time, behavioural modification and pheromones your pet can be taught not to fear fireworks and thunderstorms and to enjoy the chance to snuggle up and relax!


Material extracted from publications from CEVA Animal Health Pty Ltd with their permission.