A SURGE in firework displays being held in gardens this year because of Covid-19 could make life particularly difficult for pets, according to a Guiseley-based vets.

White Cross Vets, which has 22 practices across the UK, estimates that approximately three quarters of pets suffer from anxiety because of loud fireworks at this time of year. And it has compiled a list of easy ways to reduce pets’ stress levels.

Laura Paterson, group clinical director said: “Many public fireworks displays and bonfires have been curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so we’re anticipating a big increase in garden firework displays over the coming weeks. Bonfire Night is a stressful time for lots of cats, dogs and other pets, that is often made worse by their very acute hearing, and this year could be worse than usual.

“We also see lots of self-injuries at this time of year, often due to panicked pets running to escape the noise or chewing things that they shouldn’t to alleviate stress.

“However, there are things pet owners can do to tackle anxious behaviour, as well as helping to prepare pets for the firework season. There are also treatments and medications available to help pets stay calm. Anyone concerned about their pets should prepare now and speak to their vet about particularly severe cases.”

White Cross Vets has issued a list of tips for pet owners in the run up to Bonfire Night -

•Keep pets indoors and close the curtains when it’s dark outside, to reduce their exposure to fireworks.

•Turn the volume up on the television or radio to counter the noise of fireworks. Distractions such as new toys and chews can also help.

•Where possible, stay in with your pet during the fireworks season, so they are not alone.

•Comforting and reassuring pets can make the problem worse because it rewards them, so they think the fearful behaviour is the correct response. Try to act normally around them to show that there is nothing to be afraid of.

•Create safe places or dens in your home where your pets can hide and feel secure.

•For pets living outside, if it’s not possible to move them indoors, their pens should be partly covered with blankets, which will help to sound-proof them and block out some of the flashes.

•In case pets run away, it’s worth double checking their microchip details, registered against the national databases, are up to date.

•There are a wide range of products, such as ‘Feliway’ for cats and ‘Adaptil’ for dogs, that release natural calming pheromones. There is also a range of nutraceuticals, such as Vetpro Stress and Anxiety which can help support behavioural management. Noise desensitisation programmes can be used in extreme cases.