How To Keep Your Pets Safe During Fireworks Season
Although a source of entertainment and celebration for us, fireworks can often be frightening for our pets. The sudden flashes and loud noises can be unfamiliar and can cause a pet to panic or hide. A study conducted by the RSPCA in collaboration with the University of Bristol in 2005 showed that “45% of owners reported that their dog showed fearful behaviour when it heard fireworks (1)”.
In 2015, the RSPCA received 386 calls from owners of dogs, cats, and other animals, who were worried about the affect fireworks were having on their pets (2). If you are concerned about your pets this fireworks season, read our top tips below for some thoughtful advice.
1) Create a safe place for your pet to retreat to if they feel scared or overwhelmed. Suggestions include an open dog crate with a blanket over the top, an enclosed cat carrier, or under a bed or table.
2) Provide your pet with their favourite toys or chews. These will help keep them distracted and will help provide a positive association with fireworks. For cats, try offering them toys containing catnip.
3) Close windows and curtains to muffle the sounds of fireworks. Having the television or radio on can also help cover the noise.
4) Keep your cat inside while there are fireworks being set off, especially in the evening. If they have access to a cat flap, ensure this is locked.
5) Take your dog for a walk before the fireworks start. If you believe fireworks may be set off near where you walk, keep your dog on a lead in case any sudden noises startle them.
6) Your behaviour can have an impact on your pet. Keep calm even if your pet is stressed. If they prefer to hide away, do not try to encourage them out. Under no circumstances should you reprimand your pet for showing fearful behaviours. Instead, praise them when they show calm behaviours to reassure them that there is nothing to be fearful of.
7) If you need to take your dog into the garden while there are fireworks it is recommended to keep them on a lead. An unexpected loud noise could cause your dog to panic and try to escape.
8) Feed your pet time sometime before the fireworks start. A full stomach can help your pet feel calm and some animals will not want to eat when they feel anxious.
9) If your pet is stressed by loud noises and fireworks, it is best not to leave them unsupervised. If you do have to leave them alone for any reason, put them in a room where they will be safe, or a crate if they are crate trained, but do not leave them without water.
10) Be aware of your dog or cat’s behaviour. Not all signs of stress are obvious. Yawning, nose licking and panting can all be signs of stress in dogs. Excessive meowing, increased sleeping and overeating can be signs of stress in cats. If you are concerned about your pet’s unusual behaviour, contact your vet.
11) Ensure that your pet’s microchip details are up to date. In the unfortunate event that your pet goes missing, the details on their microchip will make it much easier for rescue centres, vets, or dog wardens to reunite you with your pet.