Woman forced to medicate ‘terrified’ dog to survive fireworks

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Bonfire Night is just around the corner and many pet owners across the UK will be concerned about the wellbeing of their pets. Fireworks can be problematic for people with PTSD or those living with conditions that cause them to have sensory overload, but they can also be extremely terrifying for family pets.

Talking to two dog owners, Edinburgh Live reports that there are concerns ahead of both November 5 and Hogmanay.

Sophie Russel, 21, who works as bartender and waitress, says that her old dog Gypsy used to be traumatised and had to be medicated to make it through firework season. Now, she fears for her new rescue Jan who is about to go through his first fireworks with her this year.

Gypsy, was a border collie and lab cross that was rescued from Romania, sadly she passed away two years ago but Sophie says that throughout her life, she was terrified by fireworks and required diazepam from the local vet.

On this, she said: “Gypsy needed diazepam every year for 12 years when the fireworks season came around. She would hide and would be hyperventilating as she was too stressed to drink water so we would just have to have her close to us. When they went off we’d have to give her the meds. I hated how it would impact her as she would stress for hours after they had stopped.

“Seeing your best friend like that hurts because you just want to let them know they’re safe.

“We would have to call the vets and explain fireworks night was coming up and they knew what gypsy was like so they’d give us diazepam for her. Sometimes it would be 4mg a night if she wasn’t calming down or getting any better. I hated the experience and I have even more anxiety for this year as our new dog Jan had an abusive past and is terrified of loud noises.

“I hate how dogs have to suffer for people to see pretty lights. We have fields near us too where there are horses, cows and wildlife. They won’t know what’s going on. I hate it. If you’re going to do it then go somewhere that will not impact animals. It also freaks out our cats. They hide and we cannot find them during the night.”

Kirsty Saunders, 54, who works as a carer for her mother, is owner to Maisie, 8, a border terrier. She also says that her dog, Maisie, 8, struggles whenever Guy Fawkes and New Year comes along.

She said: “It’s the bangs that cause her so much distress. She starts to uncontrollably shake and pant. She is unable to settle or lie down.

“I have to turn the tv or music up loud, I find that classic fm do great music to help. I wrap a scarf around her head in a specific way and have to hold her close to me as it helps her feel more secure.

“Sometimes she will settle and lie down but at other times it can take her hours to settle due to being so scared from the noise. I have to stay in and be with her all night. We sometimes try to arrange to go away somewhere where there aren’t any fireworks. Ideally I’d like all fireworks to be noiseless – I understand there are more and more available now.”

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has given advice ahead of November 5 for any pet owners who are nervous about their pets. They advise:

  • Do not walk your dog at a time when fireworks are being set off. Make sure this is done earlier in the day, preferably when it is still light.
  • Bring all pets, including outdoor pets such as rabbits, indoors and ensure they are comfortable and warm.
  • Horses should be moved to stables where they cannot escape.
  • If your pet seems restless, moving from room to room, allow them the freedom to do this. Do not force them to stay in one place, even if you hope to comfort them. It could be a sign they are looking for a safe space.
  • Make sure doors, windows and cat-flaps are closed so your pet doesn’t get scared and run away.
  • Ensure dogs are not left at home alone.
  • If you have purchased fireworks for your own display, inform your neighbours so they can take the necessary precautions to limit exposure to their pets.
  • If your dog is anxious around fireworks, do not, under any circumstances, take them to a fireworks display.
  • Be considerate. Check your garden for any unsuspecting wildlife and clear away all debris caused by fireworks.
  • If you are organising an event that includes a bonfire, thoroughly check the pile for wildlife before setting alight.
  • We would encourage the public to attend organised displays only to help limit the number of events taking place across Scotland.
  • If you see anyone using fireworks with the intent to cause harm, report them immediately to Police Scotland on 101.

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