Each year We speak to owners about how to minimise stress for their animals around Fireworks night and New Year's eve. Knowing how to minimise your pet's fear with simple plans can make all the difference.
However, if owners are aware that their pet is scared of loud noises, has a phobia of fireworks or gets very distressed, greater intervention may be needed. In such instances, you need to plan ahead - often pheromone plug-ins, anti-anxiety medications and supplements take a few weeks to take effect. If you are aware your pet has a fear, please speak to us sooner rather than later and we can work with you to put a protective plan in place.
For pets without known fears the general advice below, courtesy of the Blue Cross, will give you some great tips to keep your pet safe and calm during fireworks:
Small pets and fireworks
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.
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.
Dogs, cats and fireworks
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
Close all windows and doors, and block off cat flaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loudly) in order to block out some of the noise of the fireworks.
Ensure dogs are wearing some form of easily readable identification (ID) – even in the house. They should have at least a collar and tag.
Make sure your pets are micro-chipped, so that if they do run away they have a better chance of being quickly reunited with you
Prepare a ‘den’ for your pet where it can feel safe and comfortable – perhaps under a bed with some of your old clothes. They may like to hide there when the fireworks start.
Let your pet pace around, whine, miaow and hide in a corner if they want to. Do not try to coax them out – it’s just trying to find safety, and should not be disturbed.
Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, then let them do this instead.
Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pet if you find they have been destructive or toileted after being left on its own. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed.
Don’t tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off, ie outside a shop while you pop inside, or leave them in the garden or in your car.
Never take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if they doesn’t bark or whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean they are happy. Excessive panting and yawning can indicate that your dog is stressed.
Horses, ponies and fireworks
Fireworks must not be set off near livestock or horses in fields, or close to buildings housing livestock. Anyone planning a firework display in a rural area should warn neighbouring farmers in advance.
Try to make sure that fireworks are never set off near your horse’s field or stable. Tell neighbours and local fireworks display organisers there are horses nearby, so that they can ensure fireworks are set off in the opposite direction and well away from them.
Keep your horse in a familiar environment, in their normal routine with any companions to make them feel secure. If your horse is usually stabled then keep them stabled. If they are normally out in the field, keep them there as long as it is safe, secure and not near the fireworks display area.
Ensure that you or someone experienced stays with your horse if you know fireworks are being set off. This way you can observe their behaviour, ensure they remains as safe and calm as possible and respond to its reactions appropriately.
If you know your horse reacts badly to loud noises speak to your vet or perhaps consider moving your horse for the night
Try to remain calm and positive as horses can sense unease in a person and this might make things worse if the horse is startled
Be careful yourself. Try not to get in the way if your horse becomes startled as you may get hurt.
Don’t take the risk of riding when you think fireworks might be set off
If it is necessary for you to leave your horse in the care of another person during a fireworks show, leave clear instructions and contact details for yourself and your vet should any problems arise.
Have a great, safe bonfire and fireworks night! If you do have any pet emergencies, remember our own vets are available on-call 24 hours a day. You can reach them by calling our main branch on 01304 206 989 and following the instructions.