With Bonfire Day right around the corner, many pet owners grow concerned about how firework season will impact their pets. It’s estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, but other animals like cats, rabbits and even horses and donkeys often experience anxiety and stress as a result of their acute hearing. The unexpected loud noises alongside the bright sparks at irregular intervals can be highly stressful. Most pets grow adjusted to the routine and comfort of domestic living so it’s expected that the random and loud bangs associated with fireworks can cause stress, anxiety, and even aggression in pets. However, there are plenty of tips and strategies that can help your pet remain calm during firework season.
General firework safety
The first thing to keep in mind is basic firework safety. If you’ll be participating in the festivities yourself, don’t forget to store and dispose of fireworks securely, away from the access of your pet. To be extra safe, check your garden for any fallout, shrapnel or debril as this can contain highly toxic ingredients that will pose a health risk to your pet if eaten.
Switch evening or late-night walks to daytime strolls
Consider altering your normal routine for a week before firework season begins to help your pet adjust to a new routine. Walks during the day when it’s bright instead of evening or late-night walks, should help you avoid any large firework displays. Keeping your pet on a lead is also important as sudden firework noises have been known to cause pets to run off without warning.
Try not to leave your pets alone
Try to avoid leaving your pets at home alone during times where you know there are planned firework displays. Your presence will help with easing anxiety and in your absence, your pet could become very stressed and potentially even destructive.
Make your home a comfortable space
If you have an outdoor cat who likes to wander, try to encourage them to stay inside when fireworks start and lock the cat flap if necessary. Distraction works with a wide range of pets, so using the four Ts: treats, tricks, toys and touch, can help keep their mind away from the disruption of firework displays. For rabbits, you may need to bring their hutch inside, providing extra bedding to burrow and create extra hideaways where they can take refuge from the noise and bright lights.
Do your best to keep the noise at a minimum
Noise is the largest part of the disruption of fireworks. One way to minimise this is to keep your house as soundproofed as possible by closing windows, shutting curtains and blinds and keeping all doors closed. This also helps with the bright flashes and sparks that often scare pets. Another option is to use other sounds to mask the loud bangs and crackles, particularly familiar noises that pets often hear around the house as part of their usual routine.
As a pet owner, it’s also important to do your best to ignore the fireworks yourself and act as normal as possible as this will help keep your pet calm and safe.