The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and the leaves are turning rustic shades of red and gold – Autumn is here! With it comes firework season, from Diwali celebrations to Guy Fawkes night. Very exciting for us but quite distressing for our pets. Many dogs and cats find it hard to cope with the sudden explosive bangs which must sound even louder to their extra sensitive hearing.
However, there are ways to help them cope and it is best to prepare from now. My approach is to use a combination of creating safe spaces where they can hide and feel secure and offering them herbal extracts via self-selection to promote calm.
Find a quiet area to put your pet’s safe space, where they can retreat and hide away. A safe space can be an ‘igloo’ style pet bed, or a crate containing a bed and covered with blankets to make a den. Even a cardboard box turned on its side with an inner cushion is a cheap and easy safe space that cats can use. Or they may simply prefer to lie under a table or bed.
On the night of the fireworks, keep your pets indoors with windows closed and curtains drawn. Having the TV on or playing soft music can help lessen the noise impact. If your pet is getting anxious or panicky, remain as calm as possible and reassure them.
There are herbal extracts you can offer on a self-selection basis if you are familiar with zoopharmacognosy (if you are not, feel free to contact me for guidance or to book a session). Note that essential oils are safe for dogs, but for cats I would recommend offering floral waters or dried herbs which are safer for non-practitioners to offer.
I would begin with extracts that allay fear, such as frankincense, valerian and violet leaf. These herbs contain phytochemicals that when inhaled will affect the brain chemistry and promote calm. Rose water can help reduce adrenaline as well as being a lovely scent to work with. Lavender is another herb noted for its calming properties. Angelica root can help promote a sense of peace and is also available as floral water or the dried herb. Chamomile, cornflower water and vanilla are also comforting extracts to try.
Once your pet has self-selected their remedies, start to offer them daily in the run up to the fireworks. The animal will begin to associate that aroma with calmness, so when they are exposed to scary noises, that scent can bring them a sense of security. The herbal extracts can be sprayed or dropped onto cloths, and the cloth placed near their safe space where they can access it. Always allow your pet to walk away from the scent when they have had enough, and never force an extract on them. Self-selection works by letting the animal choose which herb and how much they need. Allow them to guide you – their nose knows!
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful autumn season!