Create a comfortable, smaller, space in the house for your dog or cat to retreat to when they’re feeling anxious. Picture: Supplied

The silly season has officially begun. From now till the new year you can expect less work being done and more noise being made. 

Particularly in the form of fireworks.  It’s the ‘f’ word pet parents dread, and one that unfortunately comes around every year. “If you have an anxious pet, it’s important to know what you can do to relieve the stress they may feel,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, nutritional advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

The use of fireworks is regulated by South African bylaws under the Explosives Act, 1956, which states, among other things, that no fireworks should be set off, detonated or exploded within 200m of any hospital, clinic, petrol station, old-age home or nursing home, or animal welfare organisation or institution, and that using fireworks to frighten pets is against the law. 

“However, even if the fireworks display is a fair distance from your home, dogs and cats’ hearing is far sharper and much more sensitive than ours, and the noise could still trigger an anxious reaction,” adds Fyvie.

Fyvie recommends that pet parents look out for the following signs of anxious behaviour;

  • Hiding away
  • Bowel and bladder accidents
  • Excessive panting
  • Inability to settle down
  • Shaking
  • Yawning
  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Attempting to escape their environment 
  • Barking and howling more excessively than usual

Fyvie recommends the following to help your pets during this stressful time;

Keep familiar noises or sounds playing in the house such as the TV and some background music. The more it seems like an everyday, normal situation, the better.

Close curtains so the flash of the fireworks isn’t visible.

Create a comfortable, smaller, space in the house for your dog or cat to retreat to when they’re feeling anxious. As a distraction from the loud noise, provide them with a tasty chew toy.

Keep outside noises at bay by keeping the windows and doors in the house closed.

For outdoor cats who come and go as they please, rather place a litter tray inside and close the doors and the cat flap, so they can’t go outside that evening.

If you can’t stay at home with your pets, make sure someone else they trust is there to calm and reassure them – the less changes during this time the better.