Then Build a Den!

The end of the year brings many reasons to celebrate and unfortunately this also brings many reasons for your pet to be nervous. If you have a pet suffering from noise phobia, such as fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night and New Year’s Eve, this can be a difficult and stressful time.

It is therefore good idea to build a comfort den, which will be somewhere safe and secure for your pet to go. A comfort den minimises the contact of your pet to the worrying stimuli and provides a ‘safe haven’ for them to feel more comfortable in during times of stress. It is best to locate the den away from windows and ideally where your pet normally feels most secure, for example behind a sofa or under the stairs. The den can be made out of anything, such as crates, pens, chairs, baby gates etc. The den should be made before the start of the fireworks season so they get used to their new area, and allows you to have enough positive sessions in there so your pet will be able to feel more comfortable (eg. by playing, feeding, or massaging). Using heavy blankets and duvets provide a source of comfort, but also muffles against noises. An example of a den is shown below:

Cats tend to change the location of where they feel most comfortable, so multiple dens may be required. They tend to use height as an advantage, so locating the den on the tops of wardrobes or cupboards (if possible) will help.

The use of pheromones such as Feliway for cats, and Adaptil for dogs, have been found to decrease the severity or duration of many nervous behaviours your animal shows when the products are used with behavioural modification techniques. The plug-in diffusers can take up to 7 days to have an effect, but once an Adaptil collar is applied to the dog, or either of the sprays are used around the animal’s secure environment, the pheromones can work in as little as 30 minutes.

Remember to make sure that you close all cat flaps, windows and doors to prevent your pet becoming startled and bolting outside. Playing music with a strong beat can also be used to mask firework noises as long as the music itself does not panic the animal.

If you would like further information on behavioural modification techniques, or background information to firework phobias, come along to our FREE talk where vets Sarah and Elliott will discuss in further detail how to keep your pet calm and safe during the fireworks season. Monday 10th October at 7.30pm. Email us at to secure your place for the night.

You can also read the full 2015 guide on noise phobias here: click here

Elliott Payne, BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS

Elliott is a veterinary surgeon mainly based at our Cholsey branch. His family have used Larkmead since he was young. Elliott started out as a work experience student at Larkmead and then as a vet student before qualifying from the Royal Veterinary College in London and joining Larkmead in 2012.
He owns two dogs, Hattie, and Winston.