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As the 4th July is fast approaching and Bonfire Night is just around the corner, thoughts turn to fireworks and more importantly – our furry friends.

The team at Epic are all animal lovers as many of you will already know so we are anxious to bring you the best advice available to ensure that your pets are as safe and happy as they can be this firework season.

One of the biggest problems around Bonfire Night here in the UK are the irresponsible pet owners who have not taken adequate steps to protect their pets at this potentially very frightening time. Animals, cats and dogs in particular, are highly susceptible to high-pitched noises so the biggest ‘no-no’ of them all is letting them out unattended during Bonfire Season.

Here are some simple but effective hints and tips offered to pet owners from the RSPCA and Blue Cross animal charities:

KEEP EM IN – it’s not rocket science, if your pet needs to be walked, try to do this early evening before the fireworks start.

KEEP CURTAINS, BLINDS AND WINDOWS CLOSED – The vast majority of us today have UPVC windows which keep out much of the noise but check to make sure.

IDENTIFY YOUR PET – make sure that dogs have a collar and tag which easily identifies them and where possible have them microchipped.

LET EM PACE – give your pet the freedom to pace, whine and miaow to their heart's content. Any attempts to coax or over-sympathize will make the problems worse. Praise good behaviour but if your pet has damaged something try not to shout, as your pet may be distressed it is going to make the situation even worse.

NEVER take your pet to a display – Even if your dog is not generally upset by fireworks, it is a potential for disaster as there will be loud bangs, screeches and whistles on top of the children squealing and screeching too.

45% OF ALL DOGS SHOW SIGNS OF FEAR WHEN THEY HEAR FIREWORKS – firework phobia is a treatable condition so if your dog reacts particularly badly at the sound of fireworks, get in touch with your vet who will have details of animal therapies which are sure to help.

LEAVE A LIGHT ON AND SOME MUSIC – this will reduce the ‘flashes’ being seen from outside and some music will help. Music selections specifically chosen to help calm animals are widely available online and usually are composed of a lovely mixture of soft classical and modern music.

USE LAVENDAR/RESCUE REMEDIES - essential oils have been used for thousands of years in the treatment of nerve related issues - a few drops on a cushion will help – do not be tempted to light a candle in case your pet knocks it over when they are upset. Bach Flower remedies have a range just for pets in the case of fireworks and thunderstorms they recommend the Rock Rose oils.

DESENSITIZATION – this really helps to prevent phobias of loud noises and is one of the things used for working dogs to prevent fear of gunshots etc. Downloads are widely available today and one of the best-selling in the UK is ‘Sounds Scary’. Using this method, 93% of pet owners saw a marked improvement in their pet and it has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to thousands of dogs over the last decade.

ANXIETY WRAP – we featured a product a couple of years ago called a ‘Thundershirt’ which works on the same principle as swaddling a baby and will give your pet the feeling of security. Available for both cats and dogs you must get the right size for maximum effectiveness to ensure that the thundershirt is a secure and snug fitting. These have once again been scientifically proven to help with all situations in which pets can be anxious – in cars, around traffic etc.

EXERCISE – like in humans, exercise stimulates the production of serotonin and it gets rid of pent-up energy which can make a bad situation even worse. There is an old saying; ‘a good dog is a tired dog’.

DISTRACTION – if they have a favourite toy, especially if they are food motivated (Bruce the dog would let you hoover him for some cheese!) try that but one of the best on the market at this time is the Kong toy which can be filled with peanut butter and biscuits to keep the dog distracted for as long a time as possible.

D.A.P. - Dog Appeasing Pheromone – this is a synthetic copy of the hormone secreted by nursing dogs to pacify their puppies and keep them calm. It comes in a plug-in diffuser which lasts around 30-days and is completely odourless to you and I.

The upshot is no-one knows your pet better than you and your vet so if you are worried that they don't seem to be bouncing back as usual or have pale gums, get in touch with your vet as they may be suffering from shock.

Most of the advice is common sense but it is always handy to have something to hand you can check back on to see where you can turn before having to resort to therapists and expensive vet costs.

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