Remember, remember the fifth of November?
It is firework season again. For many, it is a time of joy, gathering in gardens for private displays or in parks for the more flamboyant public ones. However, firework season can also be dreaded by many pet owners. Don’t let this festive season be the bane of your existence! Here is a few tips on how to enjoy this time of the year whilst making sure your pets are comfortable and safe.
So, why can fireworks be dangerous for your pet?
Many animals do not understand what and why fireworks occur. And this is why cats and dogs are cared of fireworks. They have very sensitive ears so the noises can be uncomfortably loud and also scare them. Fireworks do not present a threat to an animal unless they are scared of them. Scared cats and dogs have a tendency to bolt. Dogs can become so frightened, they may not listen to their owners. All it takes is a dog to not be on a lead, or for the owner to not expect their dog to run and not have a tight enough hold on a lead and said dog could go missing. Worst case scenario that dog might run out onto the road. For cats, it is similar, they can be scared enough to run away but become lost and disorientated. They may not know how to get home.
Why might your pet be afraid of fireworks?
The loud sounds can be quite scary, animals will not be expecting to hear such a sound so it may come as a shock to them. Fireworks also produce a smell that not all animals may be comfortable with. Startled animals will find their heart rate increase and their stress levels increase. This can put them in an anxious mind set. In this mind set, scared pets often behave differently. They may show increase aggression towards owners, other people and even pets they live with.
The good news is, you can take steps to increase the safety of your pets and also take steps to make them feel safer.
How to keep your pet safe during firework season:
- Keep animals indoors at night during this firework season. That way, they are less likely to bolt off and being indoors can muffle the sounds slightly. If you have hutch animals that are scared, try to move them indoors too.
- Walk your dog during the day. If you have to walk your dog at night, ensure they are kept on a tight lead and if able to, put a high visibility top over them so if any accidents occur, drivers are better able to spot your dog.
- Microchip your pet and place id collars on them. This is particularly important for cats as so many go missing each year and without a microchip, it can be extremely hard to track down the owners as cats can wander very far. To have your pet chip can be relatively cheap nowadays. Talk to your local vet.
- Close all windows, doors and curtains. This prevent escape routes.
- Give your pet somewhere safe to hide.
How to help calming dogs during fireworks?
Dogs can be trained to not feel so threatened by fireworks.Before fireworks start, you can create a safe room for your dog that is associated with positive experiences. In such a room, your dog should be given some control and within that space, you should leave your dog alone. Toys should be placed in there and the room should be made as comfortable as possible. Your dog should be allowed to choose when they want to go in there. When they are scared you may find them going into this safe room by themselves.
It is also possible to introduce your dog to one that is not scared of fireworks. This can show your dog that there is nothing much to be scared of. However, please keep them supervised.
Sound therapy can also be used to help dogs become used to the loud bangs. You can see the video below and find more information on their site:
How to reduce stress and keep your pet calm when fireworks are on:
- Do not stroke/make reassuring sounds/fuss over your animal when they are scared. This only reinforces fear and does not help them in any way. The best course of action is to provide a comfortable hiding spot and leave them alone.
- Do not drag your animal out of its hiding spot as this can scare them even more.
- Keep curtains closed to prevent flashing lights from scaring them.
- Make use of sprays and diffusers that may make your pet more comfortable. You may need to find which one works well on your pet as not all respond to every brand. Here’s a list of the popular ones:
- Pet remedy spray which can be applied to hiding places
- Pet remedy diffuser
- Feliway diffuser for cats
- Adaptil diffuser for dogs
- Pet remedy spray which can be applied to hiding places
Occasionally, a pet may turn aggressive. The important thing to remember is that fear is the main reason for any behaviour change. If your pet shows signs of aggression, I would suggest leaving them alone in a dark quiet room without many stimuli. When the source of their fear has gone, their behaviour should revert back to normal. Some vets offer a sedation service for dogs that really struggle during this season however, this is not recommended due to the risks associated with sedation.
So, with a little bit of preparation, you can make firework season less stressful and safer for your pet. If you have any tips or suggestions on how your pet copes, please let us know using the comment box below!
Our bunnies also get stressed by the loud sounds as they have sensitive hearing. Since they are outdoor rabbits they are not accustomed to being brought indoors as the indoor temperatures vs their outdoor winter fur can cause them to overheat and this can be deadly to rabbits. Acting normally in their presence and giving them some assurance and food is a good way to help them adjust to the loud explosions if they see that you are not bothered by them, and by sitting next to them whilst they nibble on what treats you’re offering to them gives them a more sense of security as you are then playing sentry bunny so they can eat in peace. If however the rabbits are not adjusting to the noises even with your presence you can bring them indoors for the night but you’ll need to pick them a cool room and provide them with plenty of bowls of chilled water so they don’t overheat. There are a lot of other measures you will need to take for housing them indoors, far too many for me to list here, although an indoor hutch and/or run will help minimize the amount of measures you’ll need to take as opposed to letting them roam freely in a room.