Don’t let your pet suffer from the distress of fireworks
It’s not just dogs who might get frightened now the firework season is approaching. Other pets can suffer as well but there are things you can do to help them.
It’s difficult to explain to a dog why usually quiet and peaceful night times have become noisy and bright all of a sudden so try these tips.
It’s a good idea to time walks earlier in the day before the fireworks start. Keep your dog on-lead if you think fireworks will be let off.
Always keep your dog indoors when fireworks are being let off.
Switching the TV or radio on might help to muffle the sound but make sure it’s not too loud and don’t try this if your dog isn’t used to noises from the television.
Close the curtains to black out any flashing lights from outside.
Dogs are likely to drink more when they are worried, so fill their water bowl up to the brim.
Speak to your vet about Adaptil products, which contain ‘dog appeasing phero-mone’ – these may help promote a feeling of calm for your dog.
Make sure your dog is microchipped and your information is up to date so your dog can be returned to you if they are spooked by fireworks and run off.
Don’t tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off, ie outside a shop while you pop inside, or leave him in the garden or alone in the car.
It’s never a good idea to take your dog to a fireworks display, and indoor fireworks aren’t dog-friendly either. Even if they don’t whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean they are happy. Panting and yawning are both signs that indicate your dog is stressed.
What to do if your dog is stressed by fireworks
Dogs show they are stressed or anxious in lots of ways, including panting excessively, drooling, shaking, yawning, and putting their tail between their legs.
Let your worried dog pace around, whine and hide in a corner if he wants to. Once they have found a safe space try not to disturb them.
Dogs may like to hide in a den where they can feel safe and comfortable when loud noises are all around. This could be under your bed or behind the sofa.
Placing some of your clothes there might help to keep your pet calm.
Although it’s difficult when it’s obvious your pet is stressed, try not to let your dog know you are worried as it may make the problem worse. Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s okay to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, then let them do this instead.
It goes without saying that you should never shout at your pet. If you have to leave your house during firework season and come home to find your dog has been destructive or toileted, don’t get angry with them. Reprimanding them won’t help and will also make your dog more stressed.
You also need to take great care with horses. Try to make sure fireworks aren’t set off near your horse’s field or stable. Keep a check on plans for local displays, and tell neighbours and local firework display organisers that there are horses nearby so they can make sure fireworks are set off well away from them. Anyone planning a display in a rural area should let neighbouring farmers know in advance.
Your horse will cope best in a familiar environment, keeping to his or her normal routine and with any usual companions during firework season.
If your horse is usually stabled, then keep them stabled. Do a full check of the stable for anything that could cause an injury, such as nails sticking out, before you leave them.
If they are normally outside in the field, keep them there as long as the field is safe, secure, and away from firework display areas.
If you know fireworks will be set off near your horse, make sure you or someone experienced stays with them. This way you can observe your horse’s behaviour and make sure they stay safe and as calm as possible. It also means that you can react quickly if your horse becomes upset.
Try to keep calm and positive throughout any displays, as horses can sense unease in people and if you are worried your horse’s fear may worsen.
Rabbits too are easily stressed by bangs, whizzes and other loud noises.
Give your rabbit lots of extra bedding so they can burrow down in it and get cosy. You could put a cardboard box full of hay, with holes cut in for easy access and exit, in their hutch to give them an extra place to hide.
Bring your rabbits’ hutch or cage indoors. A quiet room is best, but an unused garage or shed is a good alternative if you can’t bring them into your house.
The same applies to your guinea pig which should have lots of extra bedding so they can burrow down in it and get cosy. You could put a cardboard box full of hay in their hutch to give them an extra place to shelter in safety. Remember to cut holes in boxes for easy access and exit.
If you can’t bring your pets inside, turn their enclosure around so it faces a wall or fence instead of the open garden. This will help to stifle the sound and prevent them from seeing the flashes of light. Cover their hutch with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sound of the bangs and the sight of the fireworks, but make sure your pet still has enough ventilation.
…and for your cat
Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date. This is really important as it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they become spooked and get lost amid the bangs and crashes.
Make sure your cat stays inside at night during firework season. Check the dates and times of local displays so you know when to keep your cat in. If your cat is used to going outside, provide a litter tray.
Block off cat flaps to stop them from getting outside and to help muffle the sound of bangs and zips.
You can help to block out the noise of fireworks by switching on the TV or radio, if your cat is already used to the sound, but make sure it’s not too loud.
Closing the curtains or blacking out windows will help to block out the sight of bright flashes.
Let your cat pace around inside your home and miaow if they want to. If your cat finds a den to hide in, for example under the bed, don’t try to coax them out – your cat is trying to find safety and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events, especially during the week around Bonfire Night. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your cat if you they have toileted after being left on their own. Shouting at a frightened cat will only make it more stressed.
Although it’s difficult when it’s obvious your cat is stressed, try not to let them know you are worried as it may make the problem worse. Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your cat if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, then let them do this instead.
Information courtesy of Blue Cross animal charity