Halloween ‘au naturale’

The month of October is nearly upon us and with it brings the problem of ‘noise phobia’ for our pets. Fireworks, although lovely to look at, can be terrifying for a lot of our four legged friends. It can also be distressing for pet owners, who come to us looking for a solution, usually in the form of sedative drugs. Short-term medication can be used to alter a dog’s emotional response and memory of a frightening event. However, we advise that you should ensure your pet receives a full general health check, blood pressure check and a routine blood test prior to administering these medications. Sedatives can cause low blood pressure ( Hypotension ), are contra-indicated in some dog breeds and animals with impaired liver function.

Taking some simple steps early, may help to reduce our pet’s fear, anxiety and stress.

Pheromonatherapy, the use of pheromones, may be an alternative to consider. Pheromones are substances that regulate behaviour by olfactory ( relating to the sense of smell ) means. They are natural chemicals and have no known adverse effects. When used in combination with environmental modification, they may be very useful during this firework season!

ADAPTIL: contains a synthetic copy of the Dog Appeasing Pheromone which a mother releases to her litter in order to naturally reassure and calm her puppies. The anxiety reducing properties of this substance affect the behaviour of the dog and is clinically proven to help reduce signs of fear such as trembling and hiding by 93% in dogs and is also proven to reassure and help puppies learn. Adaptil is available in all our Vetcare branches as a plug-in diffuser, spray or collar.


  1. Build a den: This should be done at least 2 weeks before the expected event. Cover a table or crate with blankets, leaving a small entrance hole so they can go underneath or inside. By giving meals, treats or toys in the den over the period running up to firework night, the den will become a safe, relaxing place where your dog may choose to go when feeling afraid. This sense of security can be further enhanced by moving the dog’s bed inside the den and installing an Adaptil diffuser nearby.
  2. Pheromone support: Plug in an Adaptil Diffuser or use Adaptil Spray in the den or on bedding or fit an Adaptil Collar to your pet. These will promote a feeling of safety that your dog will really appreciate. The longer a dog is exposed to the pheromone prior to the fireworks, the better prepared it will be to cope with the challenge.
  3. Keep them away from the ‘bang’: Keep your dog inside when it gets dark. Walk them early in the day while it is still light. Close all curtains, windows and doors. Turn on the radio/TV loud enough to mask the noise. Create a ‘happy’ atmosphere by being relaxed, playing games, offering treats and avoid getting cross with your dog.
  4. Stay around: Try not to leave your dog home alone, this will only increase their feeling of unease.
  5. Be supportive: Offer genuine affection without being too sympathetic if your dog gets worried and comes to you for support. Keep the mood light and fun, rather than showing too much concern. it is important not to give your dog the impression that you are worried too! NEVER punish a fearful dog, this will simply make them more fearful.
  6. Ensure they are microchipped and wearing a tag: In case your dog escapes from the house or run or off on a walk.

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