It’s that time of year when people dress up, let fireworks off (I have already heard several this week) and, for a couple of days, knock on doors looking very scary.
Of course, it’s all meant in good spirit (sorry for the pun) but sometimes these festive occasions can be a traumatic experience for our pets on a couple of different levels.
1 A young puppy or kitten might be scared by strange faces and noises.
2 An older cat or dog might be anxious about loud bangs and a stream of people knocking at the door.
Have you ever taken a baby or young child into a store where there has been a giant dressed up cartoon character and the child has started to cry and scream? This is the fear of the unknown.
An animal can have the same reaction and show this in different ways. A dog, for example, may become a little aggressive and bark and a cat would probably hide. This behaviour can lead to phobias with loud noises and strangers. An older animal can become very stressed and their whole demeanour can change.
There are ways to try and avoid this happening.
Try and get your dog accustomed to strange noises. There are excellent CDs available to help you introduce your pets to noises such as fireworks.
If you have a young dog make sure they are out of the way when people knock on the door during trick or treat night. Or take them with you, but a few days earlier place a mask on the floor so they can look at it.
Try and keep your dog occupied when fireworks are going off by playing and raising your voice to reduce the noise outside.
Make sure that if you do let the dog go into the garden it is secure and your pet cannot escape. Remember like us, when adrenalin kicks in, they are capable of jumping higher and could leap over the gate.
Check your garden every morning after you have heard fireworks. I opened my front door yesterday and there was a rocket lying on the ground which could become a play thing for a younger dog.
The best advice is to keep them in the house and in a quiet room – cats are more easily scared by loud noises.
Keep them safe
The fireworks season is upon us so please consider pets do not understand this and only see bright flashes and hear loud scary bangs.
If your pet is particularly scared of noises, there are many medications available, so don’t be afraid to come and discuss them with us.
• This column is written by Suzhy Winfield, head nurse at Vetsavers in Spalding.