This is a difficult and a very personal blog for me to write. It’s been on my agenda for 7 years, but it has just been too painful to actually sit down and do it – until now.
With Halloween and firework season fast approaching and New Year coming up fast behind, now is the time for dog owners to start preparing themselves and their dogs for the parties, bangs and flashes. There is already plenty of good information available about the behavioural and environmental management and rehabilitation of dogs* around fireworks, and cats**, so this is not covered again here. This blog is divided into 4 parts.
In the first article, I looked at how the ‘fear system’ works as a normal, adaptive neurophysiological network essential for the survival of an organism. In this article, I explore the neuropathology of how the ‘fear system’ goes wrong and the serious consequences this has on the animal’s welfare when it does.
In the first and second article of this series, I looked at how the normal ‘fear system’ works and how this emotional system can become a long-standing, maladaptive anxiety and depression disorder. In this third article of the series, I take an evidence-based approach to selecting and using prescription pharmaceuticals as part of a well-constructed behavioural therapy plan for dogs whose lives have been ruined by fireworks.
In Part 3 of this article, I presented an evidence-based summary of how and why psychoactive prescription medicines can – and in some dogs – should be used to manage fear and anxiety around fireworks. I described fear as an experience generated in the brain, so any effective therapy, regardless of what it is and how it is delivered, MUST ultimately interact with specific receptors in the brain that modulate the fear circuits in some way.
In this fourth and final part of this series on fear and fireworks in pets, I take a broad look at products that are marketed as ‘alternative remedies’, or ‘therapies’ for managing fear in pets.
None of us will ever forget the tragic news of the arson attack and fire at the Manchester Dogs Home on the evening of Thursday 11th September 2014. This senseless act of cruelty, and the fear and suffering those poor dogs must have gone through, is difficult to comprehend. Yet the tragedy did strike a chord in the Nation’s hearts. Within 24 hours over £1 million pounds was raised and the final figure was over £1.5 million, all through public donations.
In 2015, a story emerged that shocked this, ‘our nation of animal lovers’. Video clips of appalling abuse of animals waiting in line to be slaughtered at an abattoir found their way into the public domain via social media and went viral (Mirror, 2015). But these stories are not new. The same thing happened 5 years earlier in 2010 (Guardian, 2010). After the 2010 incident, the government called around 370 UK slaughterhouses to voluntarily install surveillance cameras (CCTV) to “…help enforce legislation against cruelty to animals…“.