It’s no secret that fireworks and animals go together like blondes and 80s Horror Movies. They’re vulnerable, they’re exposed, and more often than not, they’re the ones who end up getting hurt. Luckily for our furry friends, there are a few tried and tested ways we can help them stay as calm as possible during the celebrations.
In the last four years, the RSPCA has received a total of 1,453 calls about fireworks and their effects on animals. Fireworks are loud, confusing and they produce sparks, flames and fumes, which can cause harm to our pets and other animal species. Here’s are the key signs of anxiety in dogs or cats:
Although most of us think that cats are pretty much unbothered by most things, short of seeking world domination and getting their next meal, fireworks can actually be one of the most stressful experiences for them. Our scaredy cats like to feel in control, which means that the bangs and explosions of fireworks will be disorientating and stressful for them. Cats may even attempt to run away when they hear fireworks, which can result in them getting lost and even hurt on the night.
The short and unfortunate answer is yes, fireworks can actually make your dog sick. Although it’s not likely that your dog will die from fright, it’s likely that the stress will cause them a huge amount of psychological harm. Like a cat, a dog may also react to stress by running away, which can result in them getting lost or hurt.
Although it’s unlikely that there will be large fireworks displays this year due to the pandemic, there will no doubt be smaller personal displays, which can actually be worse for dogs or cats. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can help your pet feel as safe and relaxed as possible. Here are our top five tips to reduce anxiety during fireworks:
One of the best ways to reduce dog anxiety during this time is to build them a doggy den, which provides them with their own space in a quite part of the house where they can retreat with their favourite blankets and toys if they feel overwhelmed. For cats, we recommend creating the same calming space out of a cardboard box and some blankets, which could be placed high up on a sturdy shelf where cats feel the safest.
Another way to keep pets calm is to provide a distraction with some entertainment. Stock up on some new toys that you can give them on the night, which would focus their attention elsewhere and hopefully encourage a positive association with the commotion outside. Similarly, both dogs and cats will benefit from having music or TV playing constantly, and slightly louder than normal, to balance the sudden bangs of the fireworks.
As a safety precaution, make sure your windows and doors are closed during the celebrations, as your pets may react to the stress by attempting to run away. Taking your dog on a long walk during the day helps ensure that you won’t be outside when the festivities begin, and your dog will also be more likely to sleep through the most stressful parts of the night. Similarly, keeping your cat indoors after dark is a good way to make sure they’re safe.
Lastly, we know you care deeply for your pets, and seeing them become anxious and frightened may cause you to become upset yourself, but we would ask that you try to remain as calm as possible. Your pets are more likely to feel settled if you are. You can also reward calm behaviour with playtime and some healthy treats, such as Burns natural dog treats.
An Adaptil diffuser or a Feliway diffuser set up in your home could calm your pet down enough so that they’re a bit more relaxed during bonfire night. For the most anxious dogs and cats, things like an anxious dog vest or medication for anxious dogs such as Zylkene could be a great way to provide a little extra help for them, just remember to speak to your vet in advance.
Make sure you do everything possible for your anxious dog or cat during fireworks night by checking out our dog and cat firework anxiety checklist:
While we know bonfire night can be a great night for humans, for pets it can be one of the worst experiences. With this in mind, we ask that you remember to stay safe, and keep an eye on your furry friends. If they are distressed to the point of concern, give your vet a call so they can advise on the next steps.
Got an anxious pet? Read our six tips for managing post lockdown separation anxiety in your dog.