Storms and Fireworks

Our furry friends are blessed with extremely sensitive hearing – unfortunately for us, this means they can also be extremely sensitive to scary sounds!

Noise Phobias

Storms and fireworks are some of the most common noise phobias that we see in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, these fears are what we call “self-reinforcing” behaviours – every time your pet has a stressful experience during fireworks or bad weather, they will remember it next time around, and become even more anxious every time. Thankfully, we have plenty of options up our sleeve to avoid this and help them get through these scary events.

Body Language and Signs of Stress in your Pet

1. Make sure you are looking out for signs of stress in your pets – they can be subtle! Your pet may hide, or pace restlessly, or seek out comfort from you. Many dogs will yawn or lick their lips when they are stressed. There is no harm in calmly comforting your pet when they behave in an anxious way – contrary to popular myths, this will not worsen their anxious behaviour, so long as you remain calm yourself.

2. If you know your pet is afraid of the sound of storms, it is imperative to keep them securely contained on days when we know they are forecast, or when fireworks are expected (like New Years Eve). Bring them indoors well before the storm arrives, or make sure that your fences and gates are secure, especially if you are not going to be home that night yourself.

3. Make sure your pets have a safe, quiet place in the house to retreat to, with a comfortable bed and the windows closed to dampen the noise. Bring their food and water close to this spot so they don’t have to venture out too far. Turning the TV or some music on at a low level may also help to block out the sound.

4. Some pets can benefit from the use of calming pheromone products – such as Feliway for cats, and Adaptil for dogs. These are odourless sprays that mimic natural pheromones mother animals release to their young, and can help your pet feel calmer in their environment.

When its Time to Seek Help from your Vet

5. For some pets, the noise of fireworks or storms is just too much to handle. For these animals, anti-anxiety medication and desensitisation training is often needed. If you feel your pet may be this affected by the noise, please call us to arrange a consultation. Anxieties need to be taken just as seriously as any other health problem in our furry friends. It’s our job to make sure they feel as safe and comfortable as they can be. It is much more effective if we intervene earlier in the process, before their anxiety can spiral out of control.

Early Finish Puppy Vaccinations at My Local Vet

What are puppy vaccinations?

We all want our furry family members to live long and healthy lives! Responsible pet ownership means giving our pets the best chance possible to avoid sickness, starting from the moment we first bring them home. Vaccination is one of the most important ways that we achieve this. At My Local Vet, we vaccinate our puppies with two key components:

  1. The DHP component, which protects against Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Hepatitis, which are three of the most deadly transmissible diseases in dogs.
  2. The KC component, which protects against Bordetella and Canine Parainfluenza, two of the most common and nasty upper respiratory diseases in dogs.

Historically, three separate sets of vaccination would be required to provide your puppy with immunity to these diseases. However, this would have puppies finishing their vaccinations at 16 weeks of age – which is at the end of their socialisation window.

What is the socialisation window?

The socialisation window is the key stage in a puppy’s mental development where they are the most receptive to new experiences. This is a critical time in their lives where they learn how to interact with the world around them in a positive way, to reduce the chances of developing fearful or aggressive behaviour to stimuli later in life.

We only have a very limited window to properly socialise our puppies – this window begins to close at between 14 and 16 weeks of age. Once it has done so, it becomes a lot harder to accustom a puppy to new places, people, and experiences.

Because this window is so small, early finish vaccines are now recommended.

What is an early finish vaccine?

The brand of vaccines used here at My Local Vet is Nobivac. This brand is extremely effective at stimulating a dog’s immune system to reliably produce enough antibodies to provide protection. This means that for puppies we can give one DHP from 6 weeks of age and one DHP and one KC from 10 weeks of age, and that’s it until the next year!

Not only does this mean your puppy will receive fewer unpleasant needles, but it means they will be ready to go out and explore the world safely from as early as 11 weeks of age – which is still within their socialisation window. This means our puppies have a much better chance of growing up into stable, well-behaved, confident dogs!