How to Keep Your Pet Safe and Secure on Fireworks Night

By Paul Sutton

Fireworks night is great fun for everyone and long may it continue. But even though legislation restricts the use of fireworks to certain times of the day, for dogs, cats, rabbits and small animals it can be a traumatic, scary and even painful time of year.

Many pets have far more acute hearing than we do, and the loud bangs and whistles of fireworks can cause pain in the ears and make some animals physically sick. And with November 5th falling on a Wednesday this year, the fireworks season is likely to be extended over at least ten days. So what can you do to keep your pets safe and feeling secure and stress-free?

MAKE THEM FEEL COMFORTABLE

The first thing to do is to prepare your home. Pets should be kept indoors when fireworks are being let off, with doors and windows closed, catflaps locked and curtains shut. This also applies to rabbits and small animals normally kept outside, as these pets are easily frightened. Next, prepare a suitable place for your dog, cat or rabbit to hide, with blankets and bedding to burrow in and some of your unwashed clothes for their comfort in their favourite room. Make sure they have plenty of water available, and have had a good meal before the noise starts so that they feel naturally sleepy and lethargic.

PROVIDE DISTRACTIONS

Make sure your pet has plenty of toys and games, and try to provide background music from a TV or radio. The volume should be loud enough to drown out the noise of the fireworks, but at a comfortable level. Rhythmic, beat-driven music is effective, but don’t turn their safe room into The Ministry of Sound!

REGULATE YOUR BEHAVIOR

It’s important to know how to react if your pet does show signs of distress. If they’re whining or meowing, trying to hide in a corner or showing other signs of being scared, do not punish them or interfere in any way. You must stay calm and act normally, as punishing or shouting reinforces that there really is something to be afraid of, while fussing and petting is rewarding them for their fearful behavior, both of which could make things worse. The best thing to do, not matter how difficult, is to try and ignore any change in behavior and act as you would on any other evening.

USE A CALMING REMEDY

For dogs and cats you can buy special diffusers from your vet that help to calm and relax the animals. However, these must be left plugged into an electric socket for up to two weeks before fireworks night to be properly effective, and there is no such remedy for rabbits and small animals. However, there are fast-acting homeopathic remedies on the market which can be dispensed via your pet’s drinking bowl or dropped directly into the mouth, and these can be used with dogs, cats, rabbits and all small animals.

WHAT NOT TO DO…

A final word on what will only make matters worse. Never take your dog to a firework display – even if your dog does not bark or whimper, it doesn’t mean he’s happy. Excessive panting and yawning can sometimes indicate that your dog is stressed. Never tie your dog up outside (eg a shop), leave him in the car or take him for a walk while fireworks are being let off. And never shout at your cat, dog or rabbit if it is frightened as you will only make it more stressed.

Follow these guidelines and you can enjoy fireworks night safe in the knowledge that your pet is secure, relaxed and happy.

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Paul is a director of online pet accessories supplier The Pet Extraordinarium is devoted to sourcing the best quality products for cats, dogs and rabbits, enhancing their and their owners’ lifestyles, and to raising awareness of animal welfare and pet care issues.

Before establishing The Pet Extraordinarium, Paul enjoyed a ten year career in PR and marketing.

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