It’s that time of the year again. Many pets are scared of fireworks and it’s a time pet parents often dread, as they watch their cats, dogs, small furries and even larger companions, like horses and ponies, cower and shake with fear.
Most of us will have been experiencing the sound and sight of back garden fireworks for a few days already this year, but Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night is just the start of an increasingly protracted fireworks season which now seems to go on until well after New Years Day.
Here are our top firework safety tips for pets to help them stay safe and as calm as possible during fireworks season
Bring pets in early to avoid fireworks
Fireworks and pets don’t mix. Try to avoid your pet being outdoors at times when fireworks are most likely to be set off. Walk your dog during daylight hours and make sure cats are safely indoors well before dusk when fireworks are most likely to begin. Before the season gets underway for fireworks outdoor pets should ideally be brought indoors if possible.
Create a fireworks safe space for your pet
Close windows and doors and shut curtains and blinds to keep the noise and flashing lights of the fireworks to a minimum inside your home. Think about the places your pet feels safe and make those spaces cosy and comfortable so they can hide away if they wish to. For outdoor pets, moving enclosures into a shed or garage can help if possible. You can insulate them from the worst of the noise and light by partially covering hutches and pens with blankets to muffle sound. Give your pets plenty of bedding to burrow into.
Keep your pet company and provide reassurance during fireworks
You are your pet’s favourite thing and their safety net. Be around them as much as possible but try not to project anxiety as that will make them feel there is something to be afraid of. Your calm presence can really help them to cope when they are afraid. If your pooch needs to relieve themselves after dark, go out with them to give them reassurance. If they are too scared to go out, a puppy pad or towel indoors and your calm acceptance can help.
Calming sounds to mask the noise of fireworks
Turn on the TV or radio or play calming music, sounds or voices to provide an audible buffer to mask the sound of exploding fireworks. Talk to your pet – we all do that anyway, don’t we? Getting your pet to focus on you and concentrate on listening to your calming voice can distract their attention from what is going on outside.
Hug them tight with an anxiety wrap
Tight wrapping for pets can be especially good for reducing firework anxiety. Try it out before you need to, to check how they react. Tightly fitting stretchy garments, commonly called “hug vests” or “thunder vests” can really help to make dogs, especially, feel more secure but it may also work for other pets. Based on the same theory as “swaddling” fractious babies, a tight-fitting shirt can calm your dog and make them feel less afraid of fireworks and other loud noises such as thunder. Another way to achieve the same effect is to take a sock and cut off the toe end, making a stretchy tube that you can pull over your dog’s head, covering their ears. This provides both the hugging or swaddling effect as well as muffling the sound of fireworks. If you have a larger breed you may be able to achieve the same effect using the sleeve of an old fleece shirt or tracksuit trouser leg, for example. Always keep close to your pet while they are wearing any kind of hug or anxiety garment so that you can remove it if they are unhappy wearing it. Real-life hugging is always good if your pet likes it. We’re all feeling a bit short of hugs right now, so make the most of it!
Treating firework phobias in pets
There are ways to treat severe firework phobias. Speak to your vet or an animal behaviourist who can find ways to help your pet to reduce the negative impact of fireworks on their wellbeing.
Helping all animals affected by fireworks
Domestic pets are not the only animals that are affected by fireworks. Horses and other large companion animals, farm animals and wildlife also suffer. If you feel strongly about fireworks and how they impact the welfare of animals there are campaigns that advocate for this. Some argue for the sale of fireworks to be restricted only to organised displays. Some call for restrictions on when fireworks can be legally used. Others aim to have the loud explosive noise removed so fireworks are more pet friendly.
Every pet is unique and special
All pets react to fireworks differently and you know your pets best. We hope the tips we have shared can be adapted to help your own pet deal with firework stress. Let us know if you have found great ways to help your pets cope with fireworks!
At Petributes we know how much you care about your pets and miss them when they are no longer with you. For 25 years we have been helping families remember their beloved pets in ways that are as unique as they were.