We all love the beauty and drama of a great firework display, however, for many people it can be a stressful time of year as they are worried about the impact the loud bangs and flashes can have on their pets.
It is also common for fireworks to be let off for several days before or after the main event, extending the period that our pets may be affected. So we spoke to vets to get some concrete advice for keeping your fur babies safe and calm during this period.
Dogs and Cats
Keep them secure: Bring your pets inside during firework season and make sure all exit routes such as cat flaps and windows are closed. Make sure your pet is identified with a microchip and/or a collar and tag so they can be reunited with you if they run off in fright. Take your dog out to the toilet on the lead so it can’t run away and provide cats with a litter tray inside. Avoid taking dogs to firework displays-even if they don’t seem frightened the noise can be very loud for their sensitive hearing.
Inside the home: Having the television or radio on can help provide comforting background noise. Some pets will like a safe place or den to hide in. There is no need try to coax them out if they don’t want to come. Behave in a calm and reassuring way and do not punish your pet for fear-related destruction or house soiling. Try not to leave your pet unattended if you suspect fireworks may go off. A cat or dog appeasing pheromone diffuser may help provide a calming atmosphere for your pet, for example, Adaptil or Feliway.
Forward planning: If you have had time to plan ahead you can consider trying to desensitise your pet by playing them firework noises at home. It may be advisable to discuss this with an animal behaviourist first to make sure any noise phobias are not exacerbated. For problem animals, a trip to the vet a few weeks ahead of time to discuss your worries and consider calming supplements or mild tranquillisers may be required. It is important to do this early as many medicines need to be started ahead of time.
Small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs can become very frightened by loud bangs and bright lights. They show fear by becoming withdrawn and hiding. They may also be put off eating and drinking which can seriously upset their digestive system. To help, cages can be bought inside into a quieter environment, turned to face the wall or covered by a blanket (ensuring ventilation is adequate). Extra bedding can be comforting and extra snuggly.
Horses and livestock
Plan ahead, find out the date of your local firework displays and consider moving or housing your animals ahead of time. Larger firework displays should always notify local livestock owners. Private displays can be more unpredictable, however, it is an offence to set off fireworks near enough to livestock to cause them suffering. Bear this in mind if you are planning your own display. If your animals remain out grazing check the field closely for anything dangerous they could injure themselves on and ensure fencing is secure. Try to get home early so routine care can be completed before any displays start.