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28th October 2010

Remember, Remember, your pet in November

With Guy Fawkes Night soon approaching, Petplan, the UK’s favourite pet insurance provider, is ensuring that our furry friends are properly cared for, during what can potentially be a distressing time for them.

Although Guy Fawkes Night celebrations are loved by many, they can cause havoc to pets across the country, in-fact a survey has revealed that 79% of cat and dog owners think that all loud fireworks should be banned. This view was shared by 80% of vets who participated in the survey.

However, Petplan’s Vet of the Year, Mike Hewitt, explains that a lot of the stress and injury caused by fireworks can be reduced through simple measures. “Injuries to pets due to fireworks are usually caused as a result of their panic – either running away or being damaged in an attempt to escape the noise and flashes”, says Mike.

“Pets have become accustomed to a comparatively quiet life and any change in that routine may affect them. The effect of loud bangs, explosions and flashing lights from fireworks can be sufficiently distressing and cause long-term behavioural problems, and in some cases leave them with an ongoing sensitivity towards noise.

To help pet-owners this November, Mike Hewitt is offering top tips and hints to help owners protect their pets and keep them calm during the fireworks season:

  • Stay calm and act normally. This will help your pet feel safer and lets them know there is nothing to fear. Do not respond directly to their anxiety – you will reinforce it.
  • Where possible plan ahead. There are many useful things that can be done to reduce their fear but they take time to put in place. Discuss the matter with a qualified behaviourist or vet. Sedation on its own is inadvisable. It may sometimes appear helpful but usually means you have a sleepy frightened pet. There are many preferable anxiety reducing products which can be helpful.
  • Keep your cat or dog inside, and keep all windows, curtains and doors closed
  • Turn on the TV or some music to drown out some of the firework noise
  • Provide your cat with a litter tray if it is use to being able to get into the garden
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a form of identification. If they manage to escape, you can be easily contacted when your pet is found. Microchips are excellent but remember to ensure your registered details are up to date with the chip database. They do not replace collars which are useful for restraining an anxious dog as well as identification.
  • Ensure that any collars are safety collars so your pet does not hurt itself if it gets caught on other objects. Reflective collars are a good idea since it is often dark and being hit by a car is one of the bigger risks.
  • Take your dog for a walk during daylight, when fireworks are less likely to be let off.
  • Avoid leaving your pets alone – they will feel safer with you around.

With rabbits and smaller animals, Mike advises that pet-owners:

  • Bring their hutch or cage inside to a quiet room, garage or shed.
  • If you cannot move it, turn it away from the open garden to face the house.
  • Cover it with thick blankets or a quilt so your pet isn’t able to see the flashes.
  • Provide your pet with extra bedding so they can hide away.

Kimberley Fetherston from Harrow fully understands, her Collie called Mistie, suffers from noise phobia. Mistie became increasingly withdrawn after the death of her companion, an elderly Dalmatian, called Pepper, and soon developed a fear of loud noises. This became so intense that Mistie dug through the leather sofa to hide from the noise when fireworks were left off nearby on New Years Day. After that, even the sound of fireworks on the TV would send Mistie into a fit of panic.

Mistie was soon referred to an animal behaviourist and prescribed some medication to help her cope with the trauma. Luckily Kimberley had Petplan Insurance which covered the cost of all her treatment.

Kimberley said “This time of year when there are lots of fireworks around can be extremely difficult. Mistie tried to find refuge in the nearest place she could find it - our sofa. I now help Mistie by playing a CD of firework noises twice a day to help her get use to the sound. Her behaviourist tells me that it may take Mistie a few years to get over her phobia but her progress to date has been phenomenal. I am so grateful to Petplan because without insurance none of Mistie’s treatment would have been possible.”

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

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