As firework season is approaching us, we through we would share some tips on how to keep your pets comfortable while fireworks are being let off.
Unlike humans, our pets find firework season very frightening and stressful. It is estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK, show signs of being scared or distress when they hear the loud bangs from fireworks. Due to a lot of our pets only hearing fireworks a limited number of times they aren’t used to the loud bangs or flashing lights. They don’t have the time to desensitise themselves from the noises.
Your pets have very acute hearing and smell. This means their hearing and sense of smell is very sensitive, so loud bangs, high pitched sounds and the odour produced by the fireworks can cause animals anxiety.
Some signs to look out for if your pet is feeling anxious:
Dogs and Cats
Putting their tail between their legs
Excessive drooling, yawning, or shaking
Pacing and Panting
Going to the toilet in the house
Cowering and hiding on top of furniture
Refusing to eat
Stamping hind feet
Staying motionless or restless
Trying to escape
Grinding their teeth
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your pets feel safe during the fireworks.
Dogs and Cats
Make sure you avoid letting your dog or cat outside at the times the fireworks are being set off. Take your dog for a long walk in the daylight before the fireworks start. Shut all the windows, doors and cat flaps. This will stop your pets from being able to leave your home. If you know your dog or cat is prone to being scared from fireworks, you might want to feed your pets before they start. Some pets can stop eating if they are frightened or anxious.
Creating a den for your pet will allow them to feel safe while they can hear the loud bangs. This could be their crate with a blanket over it, or an everyday safe place in your home filled with their favourite toys and blankets. Remember, cats feel safe when they are high up, so maybe create their den on top of a shelf or cabinet.
Turning on a TV or a radio will help drown out the bangs and high-pitched noises from the fireworks.
It’s not only the bangs that can cause your pets to be distressed, but the flashing lights can also scare them too. Close your curtains and blinds to ensure your pets can’t see the fireworks outside.
Cats can get jumpy when they see fast, unexcepted lights, so it’s a good idea to keep the lights on in the room your pets are in, this will limit showing the amount of light that can come through the window.
Don’t confine your pets to one room, allow them to be able to go wherever they feel safe. They may hurt themselves trying to get out of the room if they become very scared.
Your pets may run away from you when they get scared, so make sure your pet is microchipped and the information held on the microchip database is correct.
Your pets will look at you for reassurance, make sure you stay calm. Just act natural! It is crucial to stay relaxed around your pet while they are scared so they know the fireworks aren’t a threat.
Make sure your home and garden are escape proof. Animals can dart off if they hear a long bang.
Provide your pets with toys. This will help to distract them from the bangs.
You can use calming plug-in products such a Adaptil or
Don’t pick up your cat if they are really distressed. Try to avoid interacting with them, this may increase their stress levels and can provoke sudden aggression.
Let your pets lead what they want to do and where they want to be while the fireworks are being set off. If your pet takes themselves off, just let them be on their own.
Small animals – Rabbits and Guinea Pigs
If it is possible, it’s a good idea to bring your rabbits or guinea pigs hutch indoor while the fireworks are set to go off. Put them in a quiet room with shut curtains and windows or in a closed garage. If you can’t take your hutch inside, it’s a good idea to partly cover it with a blanket. This will soundproof one side, so the rabbit or guinea pig has a safe place to hide and will block out the flashing lights. You can also turn their hutch around to face a fence or wall, this will muffle the sounds of the bangs.
If you can bring your rabbits or guinea pigs inside, playing calming music or putting the TV on will help to drown out the noises.
As rabbit and guinea pigs are social animals, having a companion with them can help against them feeling scared in fire work season.
Distracting you rabbit or guinea pig from the loud noises or flashing lights can be done by giving them a new toy or feeding them their favourite treats.
Give your rabbit or guinea pig lots of extra bedding. They will be able to burrow down, allowing them to feel safe and cosy.
Remember when firework season is over, don’t just open your doors and let your cats and dogs straight out. Check their behaviour first, make sure they are settled and not frightened anymore. Always check in your garden is safe from remains of fireworks, as these can fall out of the sky and land around your house. You don’t want you pet to eat or play with these.
If you pet is very anxious during this season or doesn’t return to their normal self, please contact your local Willows branch for advice.