With Bonfire Night and New Year rapidly approaching, here are some top tips to help keep your pets calm during the firework season.
Dogs and cats:
Always keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.
Make sure your dog is walked earlier in the day before the fireworks start.
Draw the curtains, close all windows and doors to keep noise to a minimum, and switch TV or radio on a normal volume, in order to diminish some of the noise of the fireworks.
Block off cat flaps to stop pets escaping.
Ensure your pet is microchipped just in case they do and make sure they are wearing an easily readable identification, collar and a tag, even when they are in the house.
Prepare a “safe haven” for them to hide, where they can feel safe and comfortable. You can use some of your clothes for this to provide a familiar scent, and of course food and water.
Prior to fireworks feed a meal rich on carbohydrates, that will make your pets a bit more sleepy and eager to snooze.
Let your pet pace around, whine, meow and hide in a corner if they want to do so. Do not try to coax them out, as they are just trying to find safety and should not be disturbed. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but ideally is better not to do so as it will only reinforce the behaviour and your pet will think is OK to be afraid..
Whenever possible try to stay at home with them. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get frustrated if you find when you come back that they have soiled or destroyed things whilst you were away. This will only make things worse and your pet will get even more frightened.
Be sure you know how to identify the first signs of your pet getting stressed: e.g. Excessive panting and yawning. Absence of barking, whining or whimpering doesn’t mean they are happy.
On top of the advice above, there are several drugs on the market that can be prescribed by your vet that can help your pet feel more secure and relaxed. Ask your vet & nurse for advice. All our contact details can be found here.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets and birds all need special care as they are easily frightened.
Whenever possible, try to bring the hutches/cages indoors.
Give your pet extra bedding to burrow into so they feel safe.
Cover any aviaries or hutches with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sight of the fireworks and to reduce the sound of the bangs, but make sure ventilation is good.
The laws concerning fireworks:
It is illegal for anyone under 18 to possess a firework in a public place.
Fireworks cannot be set off by a private individual between 11.00pm and 7.00am except for certain nights of the year.
It is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any captive or domestic animal.
Unless retailers possess a special licence they may only sell fireworks from 15 October to 10 November and 26 to 31 December.
All pet owners are advised to check for current guidelines.
For any further information or advice, please contact your local practice.