Pets are invariably petrified of the loud bangs, whizzing, popping and bright lights generated by fireworks but owners can take some steps to mitigate the distress they may cause. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has put together some advice to help owners keep their pets as safe and comfortable as possible during the fireworks season.
- Do your research: find out when local firework displays are happening so that you can plan ahead.
- Keep pets inside: dogs and cats will be much safer if they are kept inside during displays.
- Create a safe space: make sure all doors and windows are closed and curtains drawn. Make a cosy den for your pet in a quiet, dark corner or under a table, using their favourite bedding. A crate with a blanket over the top can work well for a dog.
- Provide background noise: turning on the TV or radio will help to drown out some of the noise to keep your pet more settled.
- Let them pace around: some cats and dogs may prefer to pace around to find their own safe spot and shouldn’t be restricted from doing so.
- Make sure all pets have identification: If your dog or cat accidentally escapes and runs away in panic it’s important that they have easily readable identification so that they can be reunited with you as quickly and easily as possible.
- Be your pet’s friend: giving your pet the reassurance of your company and keeping your routine as normal as possible will help. Praise settled behaviour and don’t raise your voice or admonish your pet if they are anxious or vocal as this will make matters worse.
- Remember small pets: Rabbits, guinea pigs, caged birds and other small pets may be distressed by fireworks too. Ideally place cages and hutches in a quiet room, shed or garage. Provide extra bedding for burrowing and use a duvet or thick blanket to help block light and sound but make sure there is adequate ventilation
- Speak to your vet: If your pet has shown severe anxiety in the past, plan ahead and visit your vet prior to a big fireworks display. In some instances pheromone diffuser, spray or collar may help or a short-term medication can be prescribed.
BSAVA President Sue Paterson said: “Every year fireworks are a cause of abject terror for thousands of pets. As vets we frequently see an increase in requests from owners for medication at this time of year to help their pets through the stress. Planning in advance, keeping calm and following our guidance will help minimise distress for pets and in so doing should help alleviate owner anxiety too.”