Over two million UK dogs suffer firework terror

Vets from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) charity are encouraging new owners to prepare their pet to prevent firework phobias.

The latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report revealed that 22% of UK dog owners have a four-legged friend who is afraid of fireworks, suggesting around 2.2 million dogs could suffer this Bonfire Night.

PDSA is warning that this, coupled with the new owners taking on a pet during lockdown, could leave the nation’s pets suffering unnecessary distress and anxiety if owners don’t act.

PDSA vet, Lynne James, said: “It’s concerning that so many pets are suffering from severe stress and anxiety due to fireworks, and we fear this could be even worse this season.

“PDSA saw a 175% increase in online searches for getting a dog in 2020, suggesting that the pandemic has resulted in a greater demand for pets while we spend more time at home. This means there could be more new owners with little knowledge on the preparation that’s needed in the lead-up to fireworks season.”

Ms James added: “A pet’s response to fireworks can range from mild to very extreme. Many shake and tremble, freeze with fear and are unable to settle, soil in the house or destroy furniture. They can even cause themselves physical injury if they panic, try to escape or run away. It can be incredibly distressing to witness.”

The latest PAW report also found three in five (61%) vets have seen an increase in the number of pets with phobias including fireworks in the last two years, despite there being lots of ways to ease their distress.

Ms James said: “With fireworks so readily available these days and organised events likely to be cancelled due to local lockdown restrictions, there’s a chance that more people will be doing their own displays this year. This could mean stressful weeks ahead for suffering pets and their owners.

“While we can’t prevent fireworks from happening, owners can take simple and easy steps to reduce their pets’ anxiety. Puppy and kitten owners can prevent the phobia forming in the first place by including fireworks noises as part of their desensitisation and socialisation regime. Getting them used to fireworks noises when young can stop these fears from taking hold in later life so it’s important all pet owners know what to do to help prevent needless suffering.”

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