FIREWORKS season is rapidly approaching, so here are some top tips from Millcroft Vets to help your pet through the flashes and bangs.

• Make sure all animals are kept safely indoors. Take extra care that cats are securely locked in because they are prone to bolting when scared. Keep cat flaps and windows closed from early afternoon if possible. Don’t forget about rabbits and guinea pigs, they get scared too!! Cover their cage with an old rug or blanket where possible.

• Ensure dogs are taken out early in the afternoon/evening to go to the toilet – avoid having to go outside at all during the evening time.  A good long walk earlier in the day will help them to relax later.

• Draw the curtains early in the evening to avoid the flashing lights and triggers that start the anxious behaviour. Create a ‘den’ or similar safe refuge in the house – hidden under the stairs or a cupboard may be where they choose to go. Tuck their bed in a corner of a room; wherever they feel most safe and secure.

• A good tip is to leave on the radio playing some music with a loud base beat, or background noise from the television, in the room where your pet will be kept. This will not eliminate all of the close-up firework noises, but will take the edge off them. Remember your pet’s hearing is much better than yours!! They can hear a much greater range of noises than we can, and from a greater distance. Classical music has been proven to help relax pets.

• Speak to our receptionists about some of the medications available. Pheromone (or hormone) products such as Adaptil (plug in or collar for dogs) and Feliway (for cats) are scientifically proven to help. They need to be plugged in at ground level in the areas where the animals spend most of their time. They last for 4 weeks so try to get them in advance.  Zylkene capsules for cats and dogs are based on a hormone produced by bitches to help calm their pups, and are recommended to start a week before needed. Calmex for dogs is a nutritional supplement that may help relax your pet, along with all the advice and tips on this sheet.  Yucalm for dogs is a supplement that may help reduce stress and anxiety. Other sedatives are available but you will need to have a consultation and speak to a vet first, as these are potent drugs with potential side effects if used improperly.

• If you are a horse owner, then either turn your horse out in a secure field away from known displays. This enables the horse to move around freely, and there will be less chance of injury. Alternatively, keep your horse in its stable with the top door closed, and any windows covered over, making sure the stable is well ventilated. A radio playing loudly outside the door will drown out some noise, and help to keep your horse calm.

• Remember, staying calm yourself is the most important task, as they pick up so much from ourselves as owners. Be brave! Please do not hesitate to speak to any of our staff if you have any queries about any of the advice above.

The Millcroft Veterinary Group consists of six surgeries in Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington, Maryport, Aspatria and Egremont, and can be contacted 24 hours a day on 01900 826666.

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