Humans may love fireworks, but for our pets, bonfire night can be a scary and unpleasant experience. Best Friends Veterinary Group offer expert advice on keeping your pet safe and comfortable during the firework season
All pets are different, and the way they react to loud or sudden noises can be hard to predict. Some dogs quake with fear and hide under tables when there’s thunder, may seem to barely notice it at all. You need to bear in mind, however, that animals do not always show stress the way you might expect. Just because a dog is not whimpering or barking does not necessarily mean it is happy – excessive panting or yawning can also be a sign of stress in dogs. It’s worth remembering, too, that it’s not just about psychological stress.
Many pets have hearing that is far more sensitive than that of their human owners, which means that some loud noises can actually cause them physical pain. If you are in any way unsure – and especially if this is your pet’s first year of exposure to fireworks – it’s best to err on the side of caution and take all necessary steps to avoid possible trauma or discomfort during the fireworks season.
Fireworks, dogs and cats
■ Be sure to keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off – and if your dog is walked in the evening, walk it earlier in the day before fireworks are likely to start.
■ Close all windows and doors and block off cat flaps – not only to minimise noise, but also to stop pets escaping. Draw the curtains, and if your pet is used to the sound of your TV or radio in the house, switch it on – though not too loud – to help mask some of the noise from outside.
■ Make sure pets are wearing some form of easily readable identification, such as a collar and tag. All dogs should now be fitted with a microchip as a matter of course, but if pets do get scared and manage to run away, a simple, visual means of identification will help them to be reunited with you more quickly.
■ Pets often pick up on the mood of their owners, so it’s important that you stay calm and act normally. Give praise to reward calm behaviour and stroke your pet if it helps them to relax.
■ If you can, avoid leaving your pet alone whilst fireworks are being set off. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with them if you find they have been destructive or toileted after being left on their own. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make it more stressed.
■ Never tie your dog up outside or leave them in the garden or car while fireworks are being let off, and never take your dog with you to a fireworks display. We may enjoy fireworks, but animals do not.
■ Smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets and birds are all easily frightened and need special care.
■ If possible, temporarily move hutches, cages or enclosures indoors, or into a garage or shed.
■ If it cannot be brought inside, turn the hutch/enclosure around to face a wall or fence rather than the open garden.
■ Cover aviaries or hutches with blankets or a duvet to block out the sight and sound of fireworks – but always ensure there is adequate ventilation.
■ Provide extra bedding for your pet to burrow into so it feels safe.
■ The key is to be prepared and plan ahead. Blue Cross recommends that pet owners seek veterinary advice six to 12 weeks before the firework season begins, and in cases where pets are likely to become very distressed we can discuss treatments to calm them or help them sleep through the night.
Broadway Veterinary Hospital
158 Broadway, Peterborough E: T: 01733 562904 bestfriendsgroup.com