1 November 2022
We are fast approaching firework season and now is the time to think about how fireworks can affect our cats and other animals. Making sure you and your pet are prepared in advance will make the firework season a little more bearable for them.
Training – Desensitisation training can be very helpful and can be done at home and should be started as early as possible. Play realistic firework sounds on low whilst doing something that your pet enjoys. This could be anything from grooming to playing game or even searching for their favourite treats. This allows your pet to become used to the noise without focusing on it and becoming anxious.
Avoid the dark – If you have a pet that needs walking, such as a dog, walking them during the day before it gets dark is important during firework season as you can never be sure when people are likely to start setting off fireworks. Walking and exercising your pet in daylight hours whenever possible will allow them to get rid of excess energy and help them to relax during the evening. Be sure to make sure any pets that go outside without you, such as cats, are either kept inside during firework season or brought in before it gets dark.
Distraction – Using food games, bones (for dogs) cat nip (for cats) or food dispensing toys during fireworks can keep dogs distracted and focussed on something else. Remember to keep an eye on your pet as not all animals find food enough of a distraction or may not eat when they feel stressed.
A safe place – during firework season your dog may need their own space where they can feel safe. This can be anywhere in your home but creating a den like area will provide comfort and somewhere to hide if they feel overwhelmed. If you don’t use this safe space all year round for your pet remember to introduce it to them a few weeks before firework season so they have time to adapt to their new space. Once they are using it, it is best to leave them alone, giving fuss to your pet while they are stressed can increase the unwanted behaviour.
Stay indoors – If you know there will be fireworks keep them inside, close doors, windows and curtains so the sound from the outside is muffled (this also helps to reduce the sudden flashes of light coming into the room). Playing music or having the TV on at a slightly higher volume can often be a good distraction for dogs from the lights and noises of the fireworks outside.
Identification – Always be sure your pet has a collar on with up to date contact details on them in case your pet finds a way of escaping the house or garden through fear. If you are out and don’t like leaving a collar on your pet, make sure their microchip information is up to date! A frightened animal is likely to listen when they are fleeing somewhere because they are frightened, make sure all doors are closed behind you and check that the garden is secure.
Stay home – We know you can’t always be home with your pet but during the firework season, if you know you have a nervous anxious pet, staying home will help to ease your pet’s fears slightly. Occasional affection and treats are great but remember not to make too much of a fuss, if you worry, so will they. If your pet is a sociable pet, sometimes having people over can help to ease their fears especially if it something that they are used to happening regularly.
Check your garden – Before letting your pet out into the garden make sure you check the area for any stray fireworks, discarded sparklers or any other debris that may have made its way into the garden during the night. Make sure to check that the garden is secure, and no damage has been done that your pet could potentially escape through. Always supervise your animal whilst they are outside especially during firework season. If you have an extremely nervous pet putting them on a lead to go outside in the garden and going with them may make them feel a little more at ease.
Never take them to a display – However your pet seems during firework season, even if they are very calm and seem not to be affected by fireworks, you should avoid taking them to a firework display. Big crowds, strange noises and smells as well as the fireworks could cause stress for your pet and cause them to panic and do something out of character.
Never leave your pet outside at night during firework season – They could cause them self a serious injury if they were to get scared by the noises and lights. Unfortunately, there are also some very nasty people around and over time there have been more and more reports of groups or individuals causing harm to animals. If you see or hear about this kind of behaviour, be sure to inform the police of your findings.
And finally, have fun this firework season!
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