Animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs and whistles may cause them actual pain in their ears. Every year hundreds of animals suffer as a result of fireworks being let off. Some of the following tips may help your animals cope.
Dogs and cats
- Always keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off. Walk your dog before the fireworks start.
- Close all windows and doors, and block off cat flaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on.
- Invest in relaxing Feliway plugs for cats, and Adaptil plugs for dogs. These are available at most vet clinics.
- Rescue remedy can be added to your pets drinking water. It is available from chemists and health shops.
- Thunder jackets can be used to comfort dogs. These are available from pet stores and some vet clinics.
- Ensure dogs are wearing some form of easily readable identification (ID) – even in the house. By law, they should have at least a collar and tag. Get your pets micro-chipped so that if they do run away they have a better chance of being quickly reunited with you.
- Prepare a ‘den’ for your pets where they can feel safe and comfortable – perhaps under a bed with some of your old clothes. They may like to hide there when the fireworks start.
- Let your pets pace around, whine, meow and hide in a corner if they want to. Do not try to coax them out – they're just trying to find safety, and should not be disturbed.
- Try not to cuddle and comfort distressed pets as they will think you are worried too, and this may make the problem worse. Instead stay relaxed, act normally and praise calm behaviour.
- Avoid leaving your pets alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pets if you find they have been destructive after being left on their own. Shouting at frightened pets will only make them more stressed.
- Don’t tie your dogs up outside while fireworks are being let off, i.e. outside a shop, in the garden, or in your car.
- Never take your dogs to a fireworks display. Even if they don't bark or whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean they're happy. Excessive panting and yawning can sometimes indicate that your dogs are stressed.
- Rabbits, guinea pigs, Chinchillas, mice, rats, ferrets and birds all need to be treated with special care when fireworks are being let off. These animals are easily frightened.
- Hutches/cages and enclosures should be brought into a quiet room indoors, or into a garage or shed.
- If you cannot bring your pet’s hutch inside, turn their enclosure around so that it faces a wall or fence instead of the open garden.
- Give your pets extra bedding to burrow into so they feel safe.
- Cover any aviaries or hutches with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sight of the fireworks and deaden the sound of the bangs – but make sure there is enough ventilation.
Horses and other rural animals
- Fireworks must not be set off near horses or other rural animals in fields, or close to buildings where they are housed.
- Anyone planning a firework display in a rural area must warn neighbouring farmers in advance.
- Never set off fireworks near any animal's field or stable.
- Tell neighbours and local fireworks display organisers there are animals nearby, so that fireworks are set off in the opposite direction and well away from them.
- Keep your horses in their familiar environment, in their normal routine with any companions to make them feel secure. If your horses are usually stabled then keep them stabled. If they are normally out in a field, keep them there as long as it is safe, secure and not near the fireworks’ display area.
- Ensure that you or someone experienced stays with your horses if you know fireworks are being set off. This way you can observe their behaviour, ensure they remain as safe and calm as possible and respond to their reactions appropriately.
- If you know your horse reacts badly to loud noises speak to your vet or perhaps consider moving your horse for the night.
- Remain calm and positive as horses can sense unease in a person and this might make things worse if the horse is startled.
- Be careful yourself. Try not to get in the way if your horse becomes startled, as you may get hurt.
- Don’t take the risk of riding when you think fireworks might be set off.
- If it is necessary for you to leave your horse in the care of another person during a fireworks show, leave clear instructions and contact details for yourself and your vet should any problems arise.
Hedgehogs and other small visitors
- Shift your entire bonfire pile to another site before lighting. This enables any hedgehogs, birds, lizards and other creatures to escape from being burned alive.
- Provide an alternate area for them to relocate to such as shrubbery, piles of leaves, woodstacks etc.