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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Helping dogs fight fireworks fear
How do you help dogs cope with fireworks?
Pet shops in Northern Ireland are selling sedatives to help dogs cope with the explosive bangs of Halloween fireworks.

The tablets are aimed at ending the upset caused by the sudden loud bangs of exploding fireworks.

Pet shop owner Jackie McCourt said the sedatives did not knock dogs out, but they made them less stressed.

But a local vet has urged people to consider playing CDs of fireworks to desensitise animals to the noise.

Ms McCourt, who owns The Pet Stop on Belfast's Upper Newtownards Road said the demand for tranquilisers increased at Halloween, as customers worried about the effects of fireworks on their animals.

"The dogs are petrified. They go into hiding and are very nervous. It is not a great sedative. It is not going to knock them out. But it calms them down and makes them less stressed," she explained.

The drugs can also be used for hyperactive or aggressive dogs.

Alternative therapy

"People just don't stop to think, unless you have an animal like that and are in that situation, people won't stop to think," she said.

Craig Reilly, chairman of the Northern Ireland branch of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, urged dog owners to consider alternative ways of calming their pets.

Using diazepam or valium is "old fashioned", he said.

"It is about re-education," he said.

"It is a behavioural problem. What we are trying to do is to educate people to desensitise the dog. If you introduce the noise very quietly - you can buy Cds with fireworks on them - play them at a low volume, build up the volume over a number of days and the dogs realise they don't need to worry."

Mr Reilly also suggested a product, like a plug-in air freshener, which produces a calming hormone into the air to soothe the dog.

Increase in NI firework injuries
10 Feb 06 |  Northern Ireland
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25 Oct 04 |  Northern Ireland
Hospital issues fireworks warning
25 Oct 04 |  Northern Ireland

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