Keep your pets safe this Bonfire Night

fireworks

Here we have top tips on keeping your pets calm and safe this Bonfire Night from Animal Behaviour Clinic’s Senior Technician, Lynn Hewison.

  • Walk your dog early in the day whilst it is light or early in the evening to reduce them hearing any fireworks.
  • When at home, close all doors, windows and curtains and turn the television and/or radio on to dampen any noises your pet may hear.
  • Ensure your cat is kept indoors overnight. Rabbits and guinea pigs should either be moved inside the house or into somewhere that noise can be muffled.
  • Ensure your pet has plenty of water available and food available as per your pets normal requirements. With cats, make sure the litter tray is clean and there are plenty of resources in different locations available in multi-cat households.
  • If your dog or cat goes and hides somewhere, leave them and do not try and move them somewhere else. However, if they settle in the room with you, you can offer a chew or toy to help keep them occupied.
  • If your cat or dog has a safe place they use, the use of pheromones such as Feliway (cats) or ADAPTIL (dogs) can be used to help them feel more secure in these areas.
  • If your pet is scared of fireworks or other loud noises, seek advice from your vet or through referral to the University of Lincoln Animal Behaviour Clinic here.

Leading the way in animal welfare

A dog rescue charity has changed its visitor policy to improve animal welfare following a joint study with animal behaviour experts from the University of Lincoln, UK.

The academics, from the School of Life Sciences, partnered with Jerry Green Dog Rescue to understand the impact regular visitors to dog kennels had on the dogs’ welfare and behaviour in a six-week research project.

The charity has since introduced the Meet & Match process across its five centres and the research evidence has been presented at the International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting and the Association of Dog and Cat Homes Conference; and was recently published in the international scientific journal Physiology & Behavior.

During the study, behaviour and physiology characteristics of 15 dogs were analysed alongside kennel noise levels and response to human interaction during restricted visitor access and open visitor access.

Restricted visitor access meant dogs were introduced to potential owners on a one-to-one basis away from the kennels, while open visitor access meant that members of the public were able to view dogs unsupervised during a two-and-a-half hour period six days a week.

The results revealed that dogs were significantly quieter and expressed characteristics suggestive of increased relaxation when visitor access was restricted.

David Foulds, Chief Executive of Jerry Green Dog Rescue, said: “The findings of the study completed by the University of Lincoln have had a huge impact on the way we care for our dogs. Dogs that are being rehomed can suffer from stress as they get used to a new environment and new people. We wanted to find ways to improve how we care for our dogs, and this study gave us the opportunity to do so.

“We have introduced restricted visitor access at all five of our centres as a result of the findings. Our Meet & Match scheme makes sure that anyone looking for a dog is interviewed by a member of the team to find out which dog will best suit them. Dogs are then introduced to potential owners in an environment away from the kennels. It’s had a positive impact on the welfare of our dogs and has been recognised by other dog charities as best practice.”

Dr Sarah Ellis, Research Fellow from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, said: “We would like to thank the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare who funded such an important study. Collaborating with Jerry Green Dog Rescue has been a fantastic opportunity to carry out a piece of applied research, of which the results have provided a strong evidence base on how to directly improve on kennelled dog welfare.”

Lynn F. Hewison, Hannah F. Wright, Helen E. Zulch, Sarah L.H. Ellis ‘Short term consequences of preventing visitor access to kennels on noise and the behaviour and physiology of dogs housed in a rescue shelter’ Physiology & Behavior
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.045