Animal welfare charity the RSPCA is preparing for one of its busiest times of the year by issuing advice for pet owners and those planning firework displays. The RSPCA received 436 calls relating to fireworks - more than ever before - during October and November last year.
Earlier this year the RSPCA backed a fireworks campaign which asked the Government to restrict the private use of fireworks to four days of the year - November 5, New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali. The campaign was discussed by MPs in parliament in June but for now fireworks can take place on any day.
The charity is advising display organisers to give plenty of notice to people in the area so they can be prepared, as well as ways owners can help their pets. RSPCA welfare expert Lisa Richards said, "There are some simple things owners can do to help their pets. Make sure dogs and cats are kept indoors when fireworks are likely to go off, try to mask the noise of the fireworks by turning on the TV or music, and provide pets with a safe place to hide at all times.
"Small animals that live outside should have lots of extra bedding so they can burrow and some of their enclosure could be covered by a blanket for extra insulation and sound-proofing.
"It is not just dogs and cats that are affected by fireworks, farm animals can be easily frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light, which can startle them and cause them to injure themselves on farm equipment, and wildlife can be burnt alive after making their home in bonfires so it’s important to be careful at this time of year."
The charity would also like to see the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale reduced from 120 decibels - equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off at 100 metres - to 96 decibels.
- Fireworks phobia is a treatable condition and vet advice should be sought in the first instance.
- Using a Sounds Scary! CD can help dogs learn to be less afraid of loud noises in the long-term.
- For any pet, whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit or rodent, make sure you provide suitable hiding places with extra bedding where they can feel safe. This is also true for animals that live outside.
- Close all windows and curtains.
- Play music or put on the television to muffle the fireworks.
- Make sure they’re kept in a safe place during any display.
- Never punish or fuss over them as it can make things worse.
- Make sure your pets are microchipped in case they escape.
- Give your dog their walk earlier in the day.
- Never ever take a dog to a fireworks display – even if they don’t make noise or show other signs of being scared – it’s still highly likely to be a stressful situation for them.
- Pheromone diffusers may help dogs and cats feel calmer.