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Fireworks & Pets - Helping Them Cope

Animals hearing, generally speaking is far more acute than humans. Loud noises such as those produced by fireworks – bangs and whistles, can cause actual pain in the ears of animals. It is for this reason that your pet may show increasing levels of anxiety during firework season and become scared when fireworks are around. By following a few simple steps you can help reduce your pets suffering during this stressful time.

Animals hearing, generally speaking is far more acute than humans. Loud noises such as those produced by fireworks – bangs and whistles, can cause actual pain in the ears of animals. It is for this reason that your pet may show increasing levels of anxiety during firework season and become scared when fireworks are around. By following a few simple steps you can help reduce your pets suffering during this stressful time.

  • Always keep dogs and cats indoors when fireworks are being let off.
  • Walk your dog earlier in the evening to avoid times when fireworks may be being used. Ensure your dog is kept on a lead in case a firework is unexpectedly let off.
  • Ensure all exits are closed/barred including cat flaps – this will prevent pets from running off and will also reduce the amount of noise they are exposed to.
  • Draw the curtains to further dull the sounds from outside – put on the radio or TV to mask the sounds.
  • Try to distract your pet by playing games with them, giving them a long lasting chew toy etc.
  • Prepare an area for your pet to seek refuge in, where they can feel comfortable and safe – effectively a den for them to hide in should they want to.
  • Allow you pet to pace around, whine or meow if they want to – don’t fuss them or try to coax them out as they are looking for safety and are best left undisturbed.
  • Act normally and remain calm to reassure your pet. Reward calm behaviour. If they prefer hiding away to being petted allow them to do this as they may feel more secure this way.
  • Ensure your pet is easily identifiable should they escape – a collar with a nametag and owner information as a minimum. Consider getting your pet micro chipped so they can be identified and returned quickly should they escape.
  • Do not tie your dog up outside – if you have to go into a shop for example and don’t leave them in the car.
  • Never take your dog to a firework display – even if they do not show signs of distress does not mean they are not feeling stressed.
  • Avoid leaving your dog alone in the house during the fireworks if you can. If you cannot avoid this do not get angry with your pet if they have been destructive or have soiled – shouting at your pet will only make them more stressed and anxious.
  • Consider using one of the calming products which are available. Adaptil plug in diffusers can be useful – these release a pheromone which mimics the comforting pheromone released by a mother which comforts the dog. Feliway offers a similar solution for cats. Zylkene supplement comes in capsule form which can be sprinkled into the pets food and helps to naturally reduce anxiety.
  • Sometimes swaddling your pet in a tight fitting garment can help to make them feel safer – a Comfort Zone Calming Vest or similar is ideal for this purpose.
  • For larger pets such as horses or farm animals there is a requirement that fireworks are not let off near livestock. Be sure to warn neighbours of your animals presence and ask that they respect the laws and do not have fireworks near your animals.
  • Ensure you stick to your animals normal routine and familiar environment, allowing them to be with any companions to make them feel safer. If they are usually turned out then where safe to do so and as long as away from any fireworks continue this. If they are usually stabled then continue their usual routine.
  • If you know your animal struggles with loud noises speak with your vet or consider moving them temporarily.
  • Be sure not to ride while fireworks are likely to be let off.
  • Try and stay with your horse during the display if you can but be careful to take care of yourself and not get in the way if the horse becomes agitated or startled. 
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