While Guy Fawkes Night (November 5) and Diwali (October 19) can be a lot of fun for us humans, sadly they’re often very stressful for our pets. Many animals can be terrified by the unfamiliar loud bangs and whizzing of fireworks, which may cause them to hide in fear, try to escape or even injure themselves.
Unfortunately every October, early November and January around New Years we tend to see a rise in the number of stray dogs being found and brought into our Home, which is most likely down to pets escaping in fear from the fireworks. In October 2017, the number of stray dogs we rescued was almost double that of the previous month.
To help keep your pets as safe and relaxed as possible during the firework celebrations this year, our vet team has put together some advice and tips for owners.
Your pets will feel safer with you around and the noise of fireworks might cause them to panic and injure themselves. It’s a good idea to make sure you walk your dog earlier than normal and that they are well exercised and have had a toilet break before the fireworks start. This will reduce the likelihood of them needing to go outside during noisy periods. Cats should also have a litter tray available.
Getting your pet microchipped is a hallmark of responsible pet ownership. Not only is it quick, cheap and painless, but it is the safest way to ensure your pet can be reunited with you should they become lost. It is also now a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped.
If your pet is not microchipped already, it is especially important to get them chipped before firework season, just in case they do manage to escape in fear. It’s also just as important to make sure that your contact details are up-to-date on the microchipping database, as this is what rescue centres and vets will use when looking for a stray pet’s owners. At Mayhew, we also offer a low-cost microchipping service at our Community Vet Clinic.
It’s a good idea to switch on the TV or radio to create background distraction and block out some of the noise outside. You could also give your pet a toy or treat to help distract them.
Try to shut any main doors, cat flaps, windows and draw the curtains so that your pet cannot see the fireworks and won’t become startled by the bright, flashing lights.
Make sure your pet has somewhere safe to hide in their favourite room, such as under a table or bed, as they might want to retreat there when the fireworks start. If your pet is in familiar safe surroundings it will help them cope with the noise. Try including an old, unwashed piece of clothing like a woolly jumper so that your pet can smell your scent and feel comfortable.
Pheromone or calming scent diffusers and sprays may be helpful to help your pet feel calmer. At Mayhew, we often use Adaptil, Feliway or Pet Remedy to help de-stress our in-house animals. They release calming pheromones into the air to help comfort and reassure your pet.
Try to act and behave as you normally would during the fireworks as your pet will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your pet, and reward any calm behaviour with treats or playing with toys.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and any other small pets need to be treated with care when fireworks are being let off too. Bring hutches and enclosures indoors or into a secure garage or shed, cover them with a thick blanket or duvet to block out the sight and sound of fireworks, and give them extra bedding to burrow into so that they feel more secure.
At Mayhew, our Kennels and Cattery staff keep our in-house animals as calm and stress-free as possible in a number of ways.
Our Dog Adoption Officer, Lisa Guiney, said: “We try and keep the dogs at our Home calm by turning their TVs on in their kennels to drown out bright lights and the loud noises of the fireworks. We also give them activity balls and toys as a distraction and use Pet Remedy sprays to de-stress them.”
Our Cat Adoption Officer, Matthew Pearson, added: “We give our cats somewhere to hide and make sure they have access to a quiet corner in their cabin. We don’t try and tempt them out, as this may cause them more stress. We also use plug in diffusers such as Feliway to help comfort them during this stressful time.”
If you have any questions or queries about keeping your pets safe during the fireworks, please contact your local vet. We would also recommend discussing treatment options with your vet if your pet does become very distressed during firework season.
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