Keeping your pets calm during fireworks

Many pet owners dread those times of year – such as Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, or Diwali – when their normally happy dogs and cats become fearful of fireworks.

However, with a little help from Give as you Live Online, and some guidance from trusted charities Cats Protection, Dogs Trust, and PDSA, fireworks season can be less stressful for your four-legged friends.

Cats

The following advice is taken from Cats Protection.

Like all wild animals, cats associate loud noises with danger, and fireworks will make them stressed and fearful.

Displays tend to go on for a long time, and a cat can be totally terrified and disorientated 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?

The best thing you can do is to keep your cat indoors after sunset when you know fireworks are likely, with the curtains drawn and the TV on.  Even if you don’t normally use a litter tray indoors, this is a time when it is worth doing so. Remember to keep the windows shut and the cat flap locked! 

Don’t be surprised if your cat stays in a dark hidey-hole where he feels safe while fireworks are in progress, and don’t try to tempt or grab him out of his sanctuary – it will just stress him more.  Usually, he will come out when the noises are over.  He can hear a lot better than we can, so we may think there are no fireworks going on, but he can still hear them further away, so wait for him to emerge of his own accord.  If he stays hidden for a long time, make sure there will be food and water available when he does come out.  

Don’t overreact if your pet shows signs of fear, as this may make them worse.  Stay calm and behave normally.

If, for some reason, you do have to take your cat outside, such as if you have to travel somewhere, make sure they are safely in a cat carrier.
The most important precaution you can take is to have your cat microchipped so that you stand a better chance of being reunited if a door is left ajar and your cat slips out.


Dogs

The following advice is taken from Dogs Trust.

How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin

1. 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.

2. 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 his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table.

3. Feed your dog before the fireworks begin

Once the fireworks start, they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.

4. 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.

5. 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 starts, it’s best to let your dog decide what they want to do – play or hide away.

6. 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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 animal 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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