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Senior Dog Calming Products for the Firework Season

Three tried-and-tested ways to keep your senior dog calm during fireworks

Have you ever wished you could ease your dog’s anxiety around fireworks season and the end of year festivities? We’ve reviewed three products that promise to help you do just that.

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The Thundershirt, £35 from thundershirt.co.uk

The Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure, which is said to relieve your dog’s anxiety. Many owners report that it has reduced or eliminated their dog’s fear-induced over-excitement and barking. It’s said to work for all types of anxiety – whether caused by fireworks, travelling, or a visit to the vet. Made from durable material, the Thundershirt is easy to use and is fully adjustable to your pet’s size. As an added bonus, if you find the product doesn’t work for your pet, Thundershirt offers a full money-back guarantee.

Reviewed by: Emma Kennedy and her eight-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Daisy

Emma says: ‘Daisy is a very anxious and highly-strung dog. She gets frightened by fireworks and thunderstorms, and is even scared of loud trucks and other dogs – so I had high hopes for the Thundershirt. It took me a minute to work out which straps went where, but overall it was pretty simple to put on (thanks to the clear instructions) with a good-quality fabric that seems like it’ll last well. As Daisy is used to jumpers, wearing it didn’t bother her at all.
‘We put it to use on a number of days by taking her for a walk near a loud, busy road. It definitely seemed to have a calming effect and, while it didn’t ‘cure’ her anxiety completely, Daisy was a much happier and more content dog. I was actually surprised by the impact it had – especially since it seemed like such a simple concept. But every little bit helps when you have an anxious dog, and overall this was a success!’

The Sounds Scary sound therapy programme for pets, free from dogstrust.org.uk

Developed by two vets who specialise in pet behaviour, this sound therapy programme works by initially playing loud noises (such as fireworks) at a low volume, and slowly increasing the sound. Many owners have found it effective in helping their pet become accustomed to, and eventually completely comfortable with, loud noises. For best results, the experts recommend you read the easy-to-follow instructions thoroughly, and keep up with daily sessions of sound therapy in the weeks before Bonfire Night.

Reviewed by: Marlene Mann and her nine-year-old Jack Russell, Jack

Marlene says: ‘We adopted Jack from our neighbours who, although they meant well, didn’t have the time to give him much attention and as a result he was a bit neglected. Unfortunately, this means he’s grown into an easily frightened dog and he hides at the first sign of loud noises or any unusual activity. ‘The first time we played the fireworks soundtrack, even at a low volume, Jack went on ‘high alert’ and became quite skittish. As we progressed through the tracks, though, he became more and more used to the different noises, and seemed to be much calmer and happier overall.
‘We’ve now completed one round of the programme and, while Jack isn’t completely rid of his scaredy-cat ways (he’ll never be a fan of thunderstorms), he’s generally calmer around loud noises. We’re determined to keep up the treatment; it does take some time and effort on our part, but it’s worth it as we’ve noticed a marked difference in Jack’s anxiety levels. ‘Starting it with your pet in the run up to Guy Fawkes would be the best approach. It’s a great way to help your dog get used to these kinds of noises and realise that he has nothing to fear.’

Adaptil plug-in pheromone diffuser,
£18.99 for a 30-day starter kit from fetch.co.uk

Adaptil diffusers release a synthetic copy of naturally occurring pheromones to help calm and comfort your pet. (Pheromones are chemical substances produced by an animal, which can affect their behaviour.) The pheromone used in Adaptil is a chemical copy of one released by a mother dog from her mammary area after her puppies’ birth. It’s been proven to provide reassurance to dogs of all ages, helping them feel safe and secure in stressful situations.

Reviewed by: Jenny Hogan and her one-year-old Cockapoo, Tayto

Jenny says: ‘Tayto is still quite young and this will be his first fireworks season, so we have no idea how he’ll react to the bangs and sounds of the festive season. When he’s encountered a loud noise in the past he has jumped up and wanted to investigate, but otherwise he’s quite a fearless – and very energetic – pup. ‘The Adaptil diffuser was super easy to use, it was unobtrusive and didn’t leave a smell or make any kind of noise. The instructions were simple to follow and recommended that the diffuser be plugged in, and left, in a single room of the house. I chose our sitting room, and Tayto did seem calmer (and less full of beans!) when he was in this area.
‘I’d definitely recommend it and would use it again – simply because it offers the chance to improve things for him, and us, during a potentially stressful period.’

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