With Bonfire Night coming up it's time to start preparing Jem for his least favourite month: November. Ideally we'd be off to a desert island and well away from the booms and bangs of firework displays for the entire month, but once again I've failed to find one.
Jem is 15 years old now, and his hearing isn't as acute as it used to be. But this doesn't stop him showing signs of extreme stress. Rapid panting, trembling from nose to tail, pacing and fear perspiration can go on for hours. This leaves us worried he may work himself up to a heart attack. And then, just when the bangs and squeals of the fireworks seem to have finished, someone sets off one cheap and squibby rocket from their back garden, and the dog is off again.
If your dog suffers like Jem, here are a few things that have made a noticeable difference to him. Shared in the hope that your dog might benefit too.
First up, I build a temporary den behind an armchair in October and let a few of Jem's favourite toys live in it. I kid myself he associates it positively with the toys, but I think he really knows that it's nearly November and is secretly humouring me.
Then I pop him into a Thundershirt after the morning walk. These tightly squeezing dog jackets are supposed to make dogs feel cuddled, warm and secure. Jem adores wearing anything so this is always a winner. The range has improved a lot since we bought Jem's in no-nonsense grey. Now you can find all sorts of colours and different styles of Thundershirt, still with the trademark 'cuddle' fit.
When Jem's wearing his Thundershirt for real, I first spray it with Pet Remedy. This is a brilliant natural product that calms pets down. We tried it for the first time last year and were amazed what a difference it made to Jem. You can find a Party Pack kit of Pet Remedy remedies in one box, or mix and match from the plug-in diffuser, sprays, bandana and sachets available on their website. When the Pet Remedy aroma gets going you can really see your pet looking calmer. It smells a bit like Licorice Tea, or a quiet corner of a healthfood store, which isn't unpleasant.
So this year I'm feeling less concerned than usual, because the Thundershirt with Pet Remedy spray on herbal mixture and the Pet Remedy diffuser did so well last year. With any luck Jem will even consent to go outside before bedtime this year!
Thundershirts are widely available from good pet stores, and cost around £35. See the full range of Thundershirts on Amazon
Pet Remedy is also available from most good pet stores, and you can see the full range with prices on Amazon. When I looked this up just now, there were small reductions for ordering the Thundershirt with the Pet Remedy.