Remember, remember to prepare your pets for 5 November
With the fireworks season fast approaching, vets are encouraging owners to start preparing their pets now to prevent possible distress.
At up to 150 decibels, fireworks can be as loud as a jet engine and, with many animals particularly sensitive to noise, this can be a traumatic and upsetting time of the year for pets.
If your pet is severely distressed by fireworks or other noises, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) encourages you to visit your vet to discuss treatment options. A phobia of fireworks can be effectively treated with behaviour-modification techniques, which can achieve long-term success with professional input and owner commitment and patience.
For less-severely affected animals BVA is offering simple evidence-based advice to help owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health and welfare this fireworks season.
Signs of distress can vary among different animals. While some pets show obvious signs such as panting, drooling and attempts to escape, there are also more subtle signs that owners should be aware of, including restlessness and toileting in the house. Cats often hide while rabbits may keep very still and thump the ground with their back feet.
Top tips for pets ahead of fireworks season:
- If your pet gets severely distressed by fireworks or other noises, contact your local vet to discuss treatment options
- Start creating a well-padded den for your pet to access ahead of fireworks season so they have a safe place to hide when fireworks start
- Pheromone products, prescribed by your vet, can be used next to your pets’ den and around the house to help calm them
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and your details up to date on the database, in case it runs away from home
- Move small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs to a quiet place indoors
- Close windows and curtains and provide background noise to help mask the fireworks
- If your pet is distressed, remain calm yourself – trying to reassure your pet can inadvertently reinforce the coping strategy of seeking attention, and restlessness or toileting in the house can be signs of stress so don’t punish them.
BVA President Simon Doherty said:
“Fireworks season can be a magical time for adults and children but the loud noises and bright flashes can be traumatic for many animals, who have no way of understanding what is happening.
"Preparation is key and owners can keep pets calm and safe a number of ways, from preparing a ‘safe place’ for pets now through to microchipping or investing in pheromone products.
“Even if you don’t expect your pet to be anxious please consider staying close at hand on the noisiest evenings, providing background noise when fireworks are going off and, most importantly, staying calm yourself so your animal is reassured.”
“If your pet gets severely distressed by fireworks, we’d encourage you to speak to your local vet as early as possible to discuss treatment options, which can achieve long-term success with professional input and owner commitment and patience.”
BVA is teaming up with other organisations including Dogs Trust and Blue Cross on 30 October to hold a parliamentary event where MPs and peers will be invited to pledge their support for a review of existing legislation for fireworks and their impact on human and animal welfare.
BVA is also asking those hosting their own fireworks events to be mindful of animals when doing so. Very noisy or extended displays are more likely to cause anxiety and it is important to avoid setting off fireworks near horses, livestock or companion animals who may injure themselves if distressed.