Firework Phobia feature

Firework Phobia

As vets and dog owners ourselves, we are only too well aware of the distress caused to pets every year by fireworks. Evidence suggests that 50% or more of pet-owning households have a pet that is afraid of fireworks: it is a huge problem that is a distressing situation for owners and pets alike.

For many years, the only recourse we had was sedative and tranquillising drugs. Their use is undesirable (though short-term sedation can be helpful) and with the prolonged firework season these days we cannot sedate our pets for months on end.

A strategy is now available that can help reduce your pet's fears, using a combination of behavioural modification, sound desensitisation, and pheromonatherapy.

Behavioural modification

We all want to comfort our pets when they are frightened, it is tempting to say "There's a good boy, everything will be OK". What you are actually telling your pet is that it is OK to be frightened. A different approach is required. Our staff are happy to give advice on some strategies to try.

Sound de-sensitisation

This needs to be performed with the advice of a vet and is not a quick fix. The idea of sound de-sensitisation is that you play a CD on a regular basis, starting at a very low intensity, increasing the volume over a period of time. You aim to never upset your pet. Over a number of weeks, your pet will become less responsive to these sounds. Play the CD in the evening when the fireworks are going off and it will also mask the sounds outside. Counter conditioning needs to be performed once they are de-sensitised.

Pheromones

Pheromones are natural chemical messengers, with very powerful actions. In dogs, bitches with pups produce a pheromone from the mammary gland that re-assures pups that the breast area is a safe and comfortable zone.

This effect continues into adulthood. Scientists have isolated this chemical, and produced a product that works via a vapouriser (D.A.P. Vapouriser), plugged into an electrical socket.

Zylkene

Zylkene is a natural product, derived from casein, the protein in milk. Since its launch in April 2008, Zylkene has been used in many common situations which our pets find difficult. Vets, behaviourists, nurses and pet owners have all found Zylkene to be a valuable support for helping pets cope with difficult situations such as firework fear. For more information discuss this with your Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse.