As a nation of animal lovers, we want to do what’s best for our pets, and with the firework season fast approaching, it’s vital that we take the necessary steps to prevent them from injury or distress.
Loud bangs, sudden flashes, unusual smells and large crowds of people can be very confusing and traumatic for many animals. Below are some preparations and and steps you can take in order to keep pets safe and relaxed throughout the troubling time of year.
First things first…
- If you have a pet that is distressed by fireworks, it’s important that you talk to your vet to discuss treatment options. This may include drugs to help dogs with noise phobias or pheromone products to keep them calm.
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and details are up to date on the database, in case they become frightened and flee from home.
- Keep pets indoors, making sure dogs are walked before dark and cats have litter trays available. (Horses may be better turned out in a field than stabled, as in a stable they may feel enclosed and unable to move. Owners should consult a qualified equine behaviourist if they have significant concerns about their horse’s response to fireworks)
Preparing the home…
- Don’t confine animals to one room – allow easy access to all the safe areas of the house.
- Close windows and draw curtains to dull noise and flashes of light, while also making sure cats don’t escape.
- Create a cosy, well-padded den for dogs to retreat in so they feel safe. This can be done with blankets draped over crates or tables, and pillows inside for comfort. For cats, if they normally hide in a specific place, make sure they have access and encourage them to use it with treats and toys.
- Use the TV and radio to mask the sound of fireworks, reggae music is great for this, as is classical music – Classic FM will be playing special programmes for pets on the 2 and 5 November from 7pm till 10pm, find out more here
- Have your pet’s favourite treats, toys or games to hand so if they feel up for it, they can occupy themselves.
How you can help…
- Try and act normal, animals are very perceptive creatures, and if they notice you behaving strangely (like following them around and fussing over them) they’ll sense that something is wrong. Behaving like normal may decrease their anxiety.
- Don’t punish pets if they become restless or toilet in the house, as these are signs of stress and you will only further their stress by telling them off.
- Try and be there for your pet, if they come to you for comfort – give it to them. Or if they would like space, then give them plenty of room but avoid leaving them alone in the house.
- If your cat is distressed, avoid picking them up to comfort them, as this could make them more stressed and provoke aggression. Cats also take a long time to calm down, so leave them until morning to settle before interacting with them again.
- If you’re hosting a fireworks display, avoid setting them off near horses, livestock or companion animals. Dispose of any debris and remnants of fireworks responsibly. And before lighting a bonfire, remember to check for any wild animals that may be hiding in it.
If you are frustrated about the upset caused by fireworks you can view the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s firework policy here to read their call to the UK Government and see how you can get involved.