Fireworks season too long for pets Christmas staring in October -- Easter beginning with the New Year sales

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Every year, festivities appears to be starting earlier and finishing later. It may be exasperating to us, but to pets, there is one celebration that can be terrifying: - Bonfire night and fireworks.

If your dog hides, don't try to drag them out, make their chosen hiding place comfortable. If they are upset, but have not hidden, create a safe place preferably in the middle of the house and shut the curtains to try to muffle the noise. Try not to get either too angry or make too much of a fuss of them. You do not want to increase their stress or make them over reliant on you.

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Fireworks frightening animals is not new; research suggests 49% of dogs are frightened of fireworks. And the season is no longer restricted to November suggests Liverpool dog owner Amanda Jones.

"We have fireworks in our neighbourhood starting in October and not finishing till December" she said. "Don't get me wrong, I love fireworks, but it is terrifying for Harry my little Bichon Frise."

She is not alone, in 2006 a Lancashire MP called for the ban on the sale of fireworks, after reports of pets being prescribed anti anxiety drugs. The RSPCA advises people to attend organised public events, or if they can, use lower noise fireworks.

"I have a Dap diffuser which is supposed to release pheromones that remind him of his mother and comfort him," says Amanda. "And a Sounds Scary CD which helps them to get used to the noises; I think this has really helped."

"If you have a bad problem always consult your vet, in severe cases they could prescribe treatment or refer you to a behavioural specialist," says pharmacist Geoff Watson from Hyperdrug.co.uk, a specialist animal pharmacy that has been trading since 1828, and is known affectionately as The Canine Chemists. They are busy gearing up for the fireworks season.

"There are a number of things you can do immediately," says Geoff. "If your dog hides, don't try to drag them out, make their chosen hiding place comfortable. If they are upset, but have not hidden, create a safe place preferably in the middle of the house and shut the curtains to try to muffle the noise. Try not to get either too angry or make too much of a fuss of them. You do not want to increase their stress or make them over reliant on you."

"There are a number of products on the market that you may find will help with fireworks and animals," says Geoff. "The DAP sprays, collars and diffusers containing Dog Appeasing Pheromones and the feliway diffuser for cats are in very high demand during the fireworks season, as are the behavioural training products like the Sounds Scary CD's recommended by the RSPCA. There is one natural novel product called Zylkene, it is palatable and used once a day could help manage stress in many common situations and help your pet adapt to change."

He admits it is a hard balance, recent research has suggested that 77% of owners have never taken action to address their pets' noise phobias, as the fireworks season is only an annual occurrence.

"Owners are not doing enough to protect their pets from their firework fears and noise phobias and, if they are taking action, they often leave it until the last minute to seek advice which is too late," says Lucy Brett, product manager at CEVA Animal Health who makes DAP.

The last word from Geoff at hyperdrug.co.uk: "Any further advice contact your vet, or even give us a ring, we are always on hand to give advice as both a pharmacy and owners of animals ourselves."

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