How to keep your dog calm over firework season

Bonfire Night is a seasonal tradition and a sign of celebration. At this time of year, wrapping up warm to watch a stunning spectacle in the sky is an event to look forward to. But for dogs, fireworks can be a frightening experience. In fact, nearly half (45%) of pooches show signs of fear when they hear loud displays.

While it’s lovely to share certain special moments with our furry friends, it’s important that they enjoy it with us. Whether you’re letting off fireworks in your garden, or simply watching from the window this fireworks night, the experts at Canagan, the grain-free pet food specialists, offer their tips on keeping your dog calm, before and during, a display so you can both enjoy the fireworks season.

Why do dogs fear fireworks?

Like all wild animals, dogs instinctively associate loud noises with danger. Therefore, unexpected bangs or flashes from a fireworks display can leave them feeling stressed and scared.

Dogs possess an acute sense of hearing, which means the sound is amplified – and the intervals between displays can seem even louder and more shocking than they can do to humans.

How do they react to fireworks?

Dogs will instinctively run, without direction or thought. However, this feeling of anxiety may also manifest as restlessness, such as trembling, barking, panting, pacing, whining and howling. Very unsettled dogs will act out, digging at the door, soiling the premises or destroying their owners’ belongings.

Preparing your dog for fireworks season

  • De-sensitise them to loud noises in advance: Start playing firework sounds quietly while you’re playing with them in the home, offering treats every so often. Over time, slightly increase the volume. Eventually, your dog will feel safe and will only think of fun, happy moments when they hear the real sound of fireworks
  • Engage in activity during the day: Exercise with your dog during the day – whether it’s a long walk, or playing frisbee or fetch – so when the fireworks start, they’re almost too sleepy to notice
  • Let them out early: For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11pm. However, this curfew is extended to midnight on Guy Fawkes Night. To ensure your pooch enjoys a full night’s sleep, ensure they have gone to the toilet and eaten before bed. Introduce this earlier regime in the days leading up to your local display so they adjust
  • Keep them indoors: To prevent your dog from feeling distressed, or get lost or injured, settle them down at home, in familiar surroundings
  • Create a ‘safe space’ in your home: Whether it’s their bed with blankets and soft toys, or a table covered with a sheet, create a comforting space to which they can retreat and relax
  • Let them decide where to settle: While your designated ‘safe space’ may look appealing, your pet may prefer snuggling next to you. If you confine your pet to one place, they may grow distressed or hurt themselves trying to flee should they be spooked by your local display
  • Draw the curtains: Fireworks flashing across the skies can scare and distract dogs, so shut out the light to create a relaxing environment
  • Escape-proof your home: Close all doors and windows, then secure any escape routes in the garden. If you’re hosting, with people coming and going from the house, make it clear that external doors must be opened and shut swiftly to avoid your furry friend making their exit
  • A collar and micro-chip are a must: If your dog does dash, a collar with your details and an up-to-date micro-chip will ensure they can easily be traced back to you

How to keep your dog calm during a display

  • Mask the sound: Playing the TV or radio – classical music for example is proven to calm dogs – will reduce the impact of loud noises
  • Distract them with their favourite food: After each loud blast, hand-feed your dog a tasty snack. Not only will this be a distraction, but they’ll learn to associate a loud blast with a positive experience
  • A long-lasting chew toy: Stuffing a chew toy with food will keep their attention and offer a delicious end to the evening
  • Act natural: Animals are perceptive, so sense if you’re behaving unusually. If you’re overly affectionate, they may feel unsettled so reassure them by inviting play
  • If they join you outside, use a leash: If you’d prefer your dog to accompany you during a fireworks display, keep them close at a leash. Your presence will reassure them, while you’ll have peace of mind knowing they won’t run away. Never tie a fearful dog outdoors and leave them alone. Your pooch may start to experience separation anxiety that’s only intensified by the unexpected, loud noises
  • Avoid leaving them alone at home, if possible: Arrange a sitter to look after your dog if you have plans. If you return and your frightened pet has made a mess, don’t shout, as this will only cause confusion and distress. Otherwise, firework displays are just as impressive from a distance!

Huddling by the bonfire with delicious hot food is another highlight of an autumn evening outdoors. If your pet is by your side, it’s all too tempting to slip them a tasty treat. But, did you know that one hot dog for a 9 kg dog breed, like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is the caloric equivalent of three hamburgers to a person?

However, some of our favourite festive snacks can be hazardous to our furry friends, and the truth is, we don’t often stop to consider the ramifications a titbit can have on our dogs’ weight, breathing and overall health. Here are some of our winter BBQ favourites that you should be wary of your dog consuming:

  • Corn-on-the-cob: If eaten by your dog, corn-on-the-cob can obstruct their throat or digestive tract due to the shape and volume, which can cause choking. If you’re concerned, contact your vet or an out-of-hours clinic for immediate assistance
  • Onions: Many people relish the idea of burgers and hot dogs loaded with fried onions for extra flavour. However, shallots, onions, garlic and scallions contain a toxic element called Allium that can harm your dog’s red blood cells if sufficiently ingested. Damage does not generally become apparent for three to five days after a dog ingest the food, but symptoms may include weakness, reluctance to move, fatigue and darkly coloured urine. Again, seek veterinary assistance immediately if you’re concerned
  • Toffee apples: Sugary treats that we may enjoy on such occasions are a no-no for your pet. Xylitol can be found in candied items such as toffee apples and candy floss, which can cause your dogs blood sugar levels to drop and worst case, damage to their livers. Early symptoms include vomiting so keep an eye out if you suspect they’ve eaten any sweet items

If fireworks are causing your dog high levels of anxiety, seek advice from a behaviourist. De-sensitising your pet to loud noises and flashes takes time and keeping them comfortable is key in protecting their well-being, as well as maintaining calm behaviour. Please make sure they aren’t sneaking a taste of your winter-warming foods either. This is a fun time of year so ensure your dog doesn’t lose their spark.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers

The Christmas songs have already started on the radio, so love it or not, that time of year is fast approaching. Planning ahead can make the festive season a lot more enjoyable. If you are thinking about getting something extra special, have you considered a pet portrait for the animal lover in your life?

This week we were lucky enough to link with a local partner who has captured the wonderful service that we provide perfectly.

dog-sitting-service

Ally Clarke is the face behind the camera at Ginger Hound Photos, creating stunning pet portraits of your four legged friends.

Ally has been photographing for many years but 5 years ago the arrival of her Wirehaired Vizsla, Gelert, prompted her to leave her managerial role in London and focus full time on photography, and thus Ginger Hound Photos was born.

Now Ally photographs dogs, horses and other pets from her gorgeous woodland studio just on the Mid Wales border and on locations around Shropshire and surrounding areas.

When not photographing your furry friends, doing DIY, or drinking cocktails, Ally also has a passion for photographing pet parents producing modern and glamorous portraits.

You can see Ally’s pet photography at www.GingerHound.co.uk ( instragram.com/ gingerhoundphotos) or check out her people portraits at www.AllyClarke.uk

Tips on where to go dog walking this summer

Are You and Your Dog Ready for Summer?

As the days grow longer and the barbecues emerge from their winter slumber, it’s time to look forward to the summer months ahead. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to dog walking spots across the county. So here is your essential guide to enjoying local attractions while keeping your dog safe and cool.

Heatstroke in Dogs

This is an all to common and fatal condition that dogs can develop in minutes. Fortunately, it is very easy to prevent.

  • Ensure your dog always has access to clean drinking water. There are plenty of adapted bottles on the market which make it easy to take water for your dog to drink while out walking.
  • Ideally, dogs should be walked during the cooler parts of the day. If you must walk your dog during the hottest part of the day, keep exercise to a minimum and avoid tarmacked surfaces.
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car – even with the window open!
  • As an extra treat, you can freeze ice – cubes with your dogs’ favourite food inside. Or if you have a Kong, these can also be filled and frozen.

If you see signs of heatstroke, act immediately as the damage can be very difficult to reverse. If you see your dog collapse, dribble or pant excessively then act quickly to get them to a cool place. If you have water available wet their coat and contact your vet as soon as possible.

So, we’re all prepared to make the most out of those long summer days – but where should you go?

Top 5 Dog Friendly Attractions in Shropshire:

  • Cannock Chase Forest – Woodland and open heath the area has much to offer in terms of dog-walking and adventures!
  • Hawkstone Park Follies – Weston-Under-Redcastle- Shrewsbury – Monuments built over 200 years ago, cliffs, crags and deep woods this is sure to captivate the attention of you and your best friend.
  • Carding Mill Valley – Church Stretton – Streams, heathland and views to die for. While away an afternoon relaxing amongst the wildlife before enjoying tea and cake at the quaint café.
  • Powis Castle – Welshpool – The National Trust has recently opened its historic gates to the dog walking community. Spend the day exploring the 26 – acre garden but keep in mind that dogs are not permitted in the deer park.
  • Blists Hill Victrorian Town – Ironbridge – If you’re looking for a little entertainment, this recreated Victorian Town is a real family pleaser. Meet the working shire horses, have a sing-song in the local pub and take a trip down to the coal mine. An atmospheric and authentic step in to history.

Wishing you all a warm and relaxing summer from the While You’re Away team!

Keeping your pets safe this Christmas

Keep Christmas tree light cables out of reach or get a cable guard they can’t chew through, because they will try!

Vacuum regularly to reduce the risk of pine needles being ingested by your pets
Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and the sap from your Christmas tree are all extremely toxic to cats and dogs

Don’t give chocolate to your pets, it contains the obromine which is toxic to dogs and cats.

Remember, edible decorations on your tree, will be sniffed out and pulled down. Dogs have 300 million receptors in their noses, humans have 6 million, proportionally 40 times greater than us!!

If you think that a gift contains food or chocolate, don’t leave it under the tree. Your pets might open it before you get the chance and eat something that’s dangerous to them.

Don’t give your pet cooked turkey or chicken bones as they can splinter and cause serious injury to your pet.
Raw chicken/turkey wings, on the other hand are fine and good for your dog’s teeth and digestion, it’s a natural part of their diet. These must be ‘fresh or carefully unfrozen’, to avoid the risk of salmonella.

Most important of all, have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
If our sitters are looking after your home and your pets, for the Christmas and New Year period, you can be sure that your dogs and cats and of course any indoor pets, will be very safe and well loved by our sitters whilst you are away on holiday.

A very Happy Christmas to all our loyal clients and to all pet lovers out there too!

Christmas message from while you are away

Latest news from our dog sitter Vanessa

This month we are paying tribute to one of our client’s much loved pets, Todd the Labrador, they lost him a couple of months ago; was a very special boy and is very much missed by his owners.

Our pet sitter Vanessa is the sitter who mainly cares for this client’s pets, was very upset too; our sitters grow to love the pets that they have cared for over a number of years and the pets love them back.

I think that this photograph, sent to us by our client, is quite poignant, the light caught by the camera looks just like a star, which this lovely dog certainly was.

Todd the black lab

Ciara will soon be joined by another adopted Irish Setter

This beautiful and elegant Irish Setter Ciara is soon to be joined by a new companion, another Irish Setter.

Our clients are to adopt another mature Setter, such a rewarding thing to do for both pet and owner. There are so many dogs needing loving homes.

We get such pleasure when we hear from our clients about the pets, dogs in the main, that they adopt giving them a wonderful home for life.

irish setter dog

It’s that time of year again, fleas and ticks abound!

Please remember to use the tick removal tool to “twist” when removing ticks from your cats and dogs; leaving the head in can cause a bad infection.

There are so many good products available now, from your vet or good pet shops; I prefer the monthly application between the neck and shoulders. If you have a feisty cat, then a tablets are very effective.

I hope our wonderful weather continues into July, who knows, we may see more butterflies this year, I do hope so.

butterfly

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