Happy Halloween from everyone at Arkvet!
Firework season is upon us and while for many of us this is exciting, for our pets it can be very scary. Noise anxiety is a common problem in dogs and is often a huge concern for owners around this time of year. Of course, other noises like thunder, construction noise, traffic, house renovations, vacuuming or parties can cause this same problem at any time of year. Typical signs of this can be panting, shaking, frequent yawning, ears being held back and a worried expression, hiding away or restlessness, loss of appetite or seeking out company. More severe distress can cause destructive behaviours, trying to escape or even self-trauma. Dogs are often scared by loud noises as they perceive it as threatening or dangerous and that is why their response can be so severe.
Thankfully there are ways that we can help our dogs cope with this scary time……
How Do I Help My Dog at Halloween?
- Create a safe place for your dog to hide. This can be in an area of the house where the family would be around the time of the scary noise, so that the dog will have company and other noises to distract him. A crate or box could be draped in a blanket to provide insulation from noise or flashing lights. This den should be set up in advance so that the dog will get used to it and not associate it with the scary noises. Put their favourite bed there with toys or treats to help them form positive associations with it.
- Feed them earlier in the evening than normal if you suspect they will go off their food due to anxiety.
- Bring them for a walk before it goes dark, keep them on the lead in case any fireworks startle them.
- When the noise starts act normally around your dog so they won’t be upset by any changes in routine.
- Close curtains, keep doors and windows closed, play music or turn on the TV to distract from the noises. Distract your dog with games or treat dispensing toys.
- If you dog is still feeling anxious you could try a T Touch T-Shirt to help keep them relaxed.
There are various products that we stock that can be used to help calm your dog in addition to the environmental changes above. These can be used during the lead up to and on the big day.
Things to Help Keep Your Dog Calm this Halloween
Kalm Aid is a calming food supplement that can be put on the dog’s food, it contains a protein called L-Tryptophan which makes animals calmer.
Adaptil is a pheromone based calming solution that comes as a collar or a plug-in diffuser, it is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety in dogs.
Unfortunately, there are times when even all these things are still not enough for very stressed dogs and prescription medication is needed to help them cope. We can provide various medications including a calming gel applied to the dogs gums or sedative tablets that help to calm your dog on the night of the fireworks. As these are a prescription product your pet will need to have been examined and undergone a health check by the vet including a heart check within the last 6 months to make sure they are healthy enough to have these medications.
Long Term Planning for Halloween
The most ideal long-term solution is a behavioural technique called desensitisation and counter-conditioning. This involves playing recordings of the scary noise to the dog at a low level at which they are comfortable to slowly get them used to it over time.
This training ideally needs to start two months in advance of the firework season with short sessions up to eight times a week. This should be done under the guidance of a vet or behaviourist so if you would like more information on this please make an appointment to discuss it with one of our vets.