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Keeping Your Pets Calm During Fireworks

Many pet owners dread this time of the year when their normally happy cats and dogs become fearful of fireworks. With a little help from Give as you Live Online and some guidance from trusted charities, firework season can be less stressful for your four-legged friends.

Cats:

Like all wild animals, cats associate loud noises with danger, and fireworks make them stressed and fearful. As firework displays can go on for a long time, a cat can be totally terrified by the time quiet returns.  Some animal sanctuaries report a larger number of strays handed in, as a result of scared pets running away from home. So, what can you do to help make your cat feel safe? These tips are provided by Cats Protection:

  • Keep your cat indoors: Try to keep your cat indoors with the curtains drawn and the TV on when you know fireworks are happening. Even if you don't normally use a litter tray indoors, this is the time when it is worth doing so. Remember to keep the windows shut and the cat flap locked! If you do have to take your cat outside make sure they are in a cat carrier.
  • Let your cat hide: Don’t be surprised if your cat stays in a dark hidey-hole where they feel safe while fireworks are in progress. Don't try to tempt or grab them out of their sanctuary - it will just stress them more.  If they stay hidden for a long time, make sure there is food and water readily available for when they do come out.  
  • Stay calm: Don't overreact if your cat shows signs of fear, as this may make them worse.  Stay calm and behave normally.

Dogs:

How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin:

The following advice is taken from Dogs Trust:

  • Speak to your vet well in advance: If your dog has a fear of loud noises, they may be able to help or offer a referral to a qualified behaviourist who can help tackle your dog's fear of fireworks.
  • Provide a safe hiding place: At noisy times around Bonfire Night and the rest of the firework season, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, perhaps under the table
  • Feed your dog before the fireworks begin: Once the fireworks start, they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
  • Walk your dog before dark: During the firework season, make sure your dog is well-exercised and has had a toilet break well before the fireworks begin.
  • Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start: If your dog is in familiar safe surroundings, this can help them cope with the noise. Once the fireworks start, it's best to let your dog decide what they want to do - play or hideaway.
  • Make sure your house and garden are secure: During the fireworks, fear may make your dog try to escape. You should close all the windows and curtains, turn the lights on and play the radio or TV to help drown out the sound of fireworks.

How to help your dog during fireworks:

  • Give your dog comfort if they seek your reassurance: Don't punish your dog for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify their fear. You should aim to remain relaxed and therefore provide a good role model to your dog when they are afraid – interact with them calmly
  • Don't leave your dog alone: Stay in the house with your dog during the fireworks period – if left alone, without your reassurance they may panic and this could result in an injury.
  • Let your dog hide away or play as they please: It may help to keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep their mind off the noises. However, if they just want to hide away then don't force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe. Never force a dog outside during fireworks.

Small Pets:

Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets and birds all need to be treated with special care when fireworks are being let off. These animals are easily frightened. Blue Cross advises that owners of such types of small animals should follow these precautions:

  • Hutches/cages and enclosures should, if possible, be brought into a quiet room indoors, or into a garage or shed.
  • Give your pet extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe.
  • If you cannot bring your pet’s hutch inside, you should turn its enclosure around so that it faces a wall or fence instead of the open garden.
  • Cover any aviaries or hutches with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sight of the fireworks and deaden the sound of the bangs, but make sure there is enough ventilation.

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