Fireworks on the 5th of November and at Hogmanay can be a distressing time for many cats and dogs who find the loud whizzes, bangs and flashes very upsetting.
Many firework displays take place either side of the 5th resulting in many days, if not weeks, of firework anxiety for many pets. It’s therefore important to consider protecting your pet early, ideally from the end of October to the middle of November.
Many councils and pet organisations report a large increase in the number of lost dogs and cats found during firework season. Many have been startled and bolted at the sound of a firework while outside. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.
There are, however, lots of things you can do to help your pets through the firework celebrations:
- Ask your neighbours if they plan to have fireworks and find out if there are any public firework displays taking place near you. This will help you prepare in advance.
- If you can’t be home on these nights, make sure you draw the curtains and blinds and leave the TV or radio on (at a pet friendly level) which will help to distract your pets from the noise and flashes from outside. It’s also a good idea to provide safe access to some darker rooms in the house so your pets can decide where they feel safest.
- It’s important not to confine your pets in one room or single area as they may injure themselves if they panic and try to escape from it.
- Many cats will hide inside their home when fireworks are going off. If you are expecting a display, keep your cat in, lock the cat flap, close all doors and windows and make sure they have a litter tray in a quiet area. It’s always surprising where cats and dogs can escape from, so please escape proof your home as much as possible.
- When walking your dog during firework season, its a good idea to keep them on the lead to avoid them running off at the sound of an errant firework. It’s a good idea to try and walk them in the light before darkness falls.
- A cat’s response to danger is often to hide away until the danger passes. It’s therefore important to give them lots of bolt-holes they can escape to where they feel safer and calmer. Cats generally feel safer the higher up they are (e.g. wardrobes), so if they have a favourite high up area make sure they have easy access to it. If they do hide away, it’s important to leave them and not disturb them, as this is the place they feel the safest.
- Dogs also need a safe and secure place to hole up in. They may already have a safe and secure bolt hole, but if not, a table with a cloth or blanket over it or a good sized cupboard may help them feel more secure. You can also reward use of this safe area with treats and toys.
- If your cat is displaying fearful or distressed behaviour, it’s recommended that you don’t pick them up, as most cats prefer to be left alone to cope by themselves. If you do pick them up while they’re distressed they may become aggressive towards you. It may also take a day or two for them to get back to normal, so please give them the space they need to recover at their own pace.
- If your pets have messes or urinate as a result of the stress of fireworks, it’s very important not to tell them off or get angry with them. Getting annoyed will only make things worse, so try and ignore the accidents and keep calm.
- Always ensure your cat or dog is microchipped and has their collar & ID tag on, so that if they do get spooked and run off, they can be easily returned to you when found. If you have a cat it’s worthwhile investing in a quick release safety collar, just in case they get caught on something. Please always ensure that your microchip and tag address and telephone details are up to date – especially if you move house.
- It’s human nature to want to comfort an agitated and frightened pet, but often this isn’t the best thing to do. If you make a fuss and become anxious this is only likely to transfer to your pets and make them even more anxious. Try and keep things as normal and as relaxed as possible and this will help your pets cope better.
- Many people have had great success with calming plug-in diffusers which naturally calm and de-stress your pets during fireworks season. One of our favourites is the Pet Remedy Atomiser which diffuses a blend of calming scents into the room at regular intervals.
- If you’re planning a bonfire, please check that there are no small animals sleeping there before lighting it!
- If you know there are lots of pets living in your street and you really can’t give up your fireworks, please consider using a brand of “silent fireworks” which give you the same spectacle, but without the loud bangs!
We hope that this post has given you a few useful tips in helping your pets cope better with fireworks. All pets react differently to fireworks, some aren’t bothered at all, while others can become very distressed. If you feel your pet isn’t coping we recommend that you consult your local vet for more help.