Preparing for Fireworks Season

It's natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises. The sounds trigger their nervous systems, and they can become anxious or afraid.

The experience of fireworks is different for your pet than other natural loud noises, like thunder. Fireworks are closer to the ground, more vibrant, and are accompanied by sudden booms, flashes and burning smells. Dogs experience the world through their senses — nose, eyes, ears, so the firework season can be extremely distressing for them.

If fireworks are hair raising for your hound, there are ways that you can help prepare for the season, in advance and on the nights,

Prepare in Advance

You can prepare weeks in advance for a calm, serene and anxiety free firework season. Here's how....

  1. Create a cosy den environment for your pet to retreat to if they choose. A crate with the door open is ideal or a room that they feel more protection from noise, vibration or light flashes.
  2. Use heavy curtains at windows and lay blankets, towels, cushions or other such thick sound insulating material along the bottom of doorways. If you have a crate that you can use as a safe haven, place it on top of blankets to insulate from the sound and drape one over the top and sides.
  3. Put treats, favourite toys and a water bowl inside the den and let your pet gradually investigate at their own accord...never force them to go in.
  4. Play the sounds of fireworks quietly whilst your pet plays or eats their dinner to accustom them to the sounds. Gradually increase the volume over a few days/weeks, whilst your pet remains relaxed. There are a number of "white noise" sound effects available for free online, on platforms such as You Tube, an example of which is here
  5. If you live in an area that has excessive fireworks such as near a public display or in an area where many households host private firework parties then you could consider taking your pet out of the environment completely for the worst weekend, such as to stay with friends or family.
  6. Talk to your vet about help - they might be able to recommend a local animal behaviourist.
  7. Make sure your pet is micro chipped and that the micro chip details are current and accurate. Keep their collar with ID tag on, just in case fireworks start when they are in the garden and they escape. Always keep them on their lead during walks over the firework season, just in case fireworks start whilst you are out with your pet, as running away from the noise is a survival instinct.
  8. Start your pet on the Scullcap & Valerian Tablets - see the below countdown for help on when to start administering.

On the Nights

When the season arrives, you can still do plenty to help settle your pet. Here are some last minute ideas to implement on the day....

  • Take your dog for a long walk earlier in the daylight, long before you expect fireworks to start. (Always keep them on the lead, just in case!)
  • Give your pet fun activities to tire them out and distract them...check out these videos for some great ideas:
  • Stay with your pet and reassure them that all is well.
  • Feed your pet earlier in the day and save tasty treats for the evening. This helps them form a positive association with firework noises.
  • Keep the TV on and have a radio or music playing in another room to help mask the noises outside,
  • Allow your pet to retreat to their den and let them enjoy the peace and safety of their cosy haven.
  • Administer your pet with Valerian Compound if needed, for fast acting relief.
  • If it becomes too much, pop your pet in the car and drive to a quieter location, keeping the car warm and the radio on.
The Final Countdown
1 MONTH to go
Pets with severe phobias could benefit from being given Scullcap & Valerian Tablets on a daily ongoing basis, starting well in advance (one month) of firework season. 
10 DAYS to go
Time to start giving Scullcap & Valerian Tablets on a daily ongoing basis, (splitting the dose between AM and PM) to pets with moderate phobias.
ONE DAY to go
If necessary, double the dose of Scullcap & Valerian Tablets (if you haven't started yet, it isn't too late!).
Keep giving the Scullcap & Valerian Tablets at the higher rate of dose being given before dusk. 
Make sure that you have Valerian Compound on hand to top up if necessary, when the bangs and fizzes are in full force.

How do the products work and what do they do?
Product Product Type Contains
Scullcap & Valerian Tablets Veterinary herbal medicine tablets Valerian, Mistletoe, Scullcap, Gentian
Organic Valerian Compound Pure extracts of 3 herbs in liquid form Vervain, Valerian, Mistletoe
Calm Down! Dried loose herbs Camomile, Lemon Balm, Vervain, Lime Flowers, Skullcap
Woof & Brew Herbal Anxiety Tea Bags Dried herbs within individual tea bags Rose petals, Lavender, Devils Claw, Orange Flowers, Skullcap, Astragalus & Lime Flower.

Valerian - is a nervine, anti-spasmodic and relaxant. It has sedative effects on the nervous system but not on the muscles. 
Mistletoe - is widely used in Europe. It helps circulation and also helps to relax the nervous system.
Scullcap - contains a number of valuable compounds including those which bind to the GABA receptor and reduces anxiety.
Gentian - supports the other active ingredients and also aids the liver in de-toxification.
Vervain - is commonly used to help ease anxiety by restoring the nervous system.
Camomile - is valuable in helping support the nervous system. Commonly known as the most popular herbal tea for a "relaxing sleep", Chamomile is often used as a 'calming and digestive aid'. It can also help maintain healthy skin.
Lemon Balm - is known for its 'calming' action. It was thought historically that Lemon Balm relieved melancholy or in our modern terms "stress". 

How do the Scullcap & Valerian and Valerian Compound work and will they sedate my dog?

They are not sedatives, in fact these are widely used for performance dogs such as agility and show dogs when they need to be alert and focussed. The herbs are nervines, that means they help to naturally relax the nervous system which reduces anxiety yet does not sedate muscles.

Can I use the tablets and liquid together?

Scullcap & Valerian Tablets used daily provide better coverage and are ideal to start using in the lead up to Fireworks Night so they are already nice and relaxed before the scary noises start. Valerian Compound is quicker-acting and is perfect to use orally as a "top-up" and for unpredicted events such as a neighbours having a fireworks display or a thunder storm. It is ideal to put a few drops on a cloth on their bed to help them relax, cats love this especially.

When do I need to start giving the products?

The more severe the phobia, the earlier you should start, up to a month in some cases. For moderate phobias, start around 10 days before the predicted worst night. However, even if you only start the day or so before your dog will still benefit.

Why use Dorwest calming products?

Scullcap & Valerian tablets are the only herbal product to be officially authorised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to help anxiety and nervousness. They have been used successfully for over 40 years and are a medicine you can rely on. The ingredients reach medicinal standards and Dorwest follows rigorous regulations on safety and quality.

What dosage/administration should I use?

For Scullcap & Valerian Tablets the dosage is 1 - 2 tablets per 5kgs bodyweight daily, ideally given as two split doses, depending on the severity of the condition. For use on singular occassions, give 12 hours and 2 hours before the event using the higher dosage rate.

For Valerian Compound the administration is 1/2 tsp for small dogs and cats, 1/2 tsp for medium dogs, 1tsp for large dogs and 1.5tsp for Giant breeds. May be given as required, it is not recommended that more than two administrations of the stated amount are given in a 24 hours period.

Are they suitable for use during pregnancy/lactation?

Neither Scullcap & Valerian Tablets or Valerian Compound are recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation - if you are unsure please contact the Dorwest advice line for further information.