Fireworks Season Special Feature (part 1): How do I know if my pet is stressed?

As we mentioned in our post this week, Fireworks season is approaching fast, but would you know if your dog had a firework fear?
Unless your dog climbs the walls or does something drastic, would you actually know if your dog had a firework fear?

Firework fears are more common than you think and can affect up to 80% of pets!! What’s more worrying is that if these noise fears are left unaddressed, they can progress to a serious noise phobia in dogs, with even the slightest noise causing panic and sudden, extreme or excessive reactions.

‘A recent study by Bristol University demonstrated that less than a third of owners seek advice regarding their dog’s fear of loud noises and of these only half seek assistance from their vet (Blackwell et. al., 2013). The study found that while owners were good at spotting the same signs that humans display when fearful (e.g. trembling, shaking, hiding) they were less able to spot behavioural signs that dogs may express such as decreased activity and increased salivation.’

As much as our pets do behave like us sometimes, it does not mean that the symptoms they display when they are worried are the same as ours, meaning that pet owners such as yourselves may often have a difficult time establishing if their pets are stressed or not.

The makers of Adaptil and Feliway team up with MedicAnimal to show you how to spot signs of anxiety in your dogs and cats.

You know your dog better than anybody and will often notice changes in their behaviour in challenging situations, such as visits to the vets or a stay at kennels. The firework season is another scary time for many dogs who will show stress-related and fearful behaviour.
Symptoms to look out for include:
• Trembling and shaking
• Barking excessively
• Cowering and hiding
• Trying to run away
• Soiling the house
• Pacing and panting
• Refusing to eat
• Attention seeking

You know your cat better than anybody and can see changes in their behaviour in situations they find difficult, such as visits to the vet, car travel and during any changes to their environment. During the firework season many cats become more stressed, as they are kept indoors for longer during the colder, dark nights and to avoid the fireworks.
When cats are stressed they exhibit certain unwanted behaviours. Look out for:
• Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture
• Scratching and spraying in the home
• Soiling the house
• Refusing to eat

If you see your pet displaying any of these behaviours, go and see your vet as soon as possible, as your vet can help create a behaviour management programme and prescribe any necessary treatment needed to help support your dog throughout the firework party season.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on establishing if your pets are more prone to fear of loud noises and how to cope with fireworks season.

The Vet Team

Blackwell, E., Bradshaw, J. and Casey R. (2013) Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: Prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behaviour. J Applied Animal Behaviour. 145: 15-25

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