Many of our pets suffer every year with the ever increasing amounts of fireworks that go off each November and New Year as well as other times of the year, often unpredictably.   There are many ways that you can help your pet cope with the endless flashes, bangs and wizzes....

Simple measures like keeping them indoors, shutting dog / cat flaps and curtains and leaving the radio on (e.g. Classic FM!) can help your pet.   Ideally this should be started as a matter of course for all pets when they are young or newly rescued.  While they may be OK from one year to the next, a negative experience when exposed to the sights and sounds (even if it is far away) can cause your pet to be anxious - something that can worsen year on year.

We strongly recommend you NEVER take your pet to a fireworks display - whether small in your garden or a fireworks event.

Your pet may choose to escape when frightened - now is the time to make sure name tags and microchip details are all up-to-date.

There are other hazards that can be dangerous to pets at this time of year, some are listed below.

Firstly make sure your pets are in the house by dusk & that all curtains are closed. Provide a continuous noise, e.g. switch on the radio or television (avoid any firework coverage!), as quite often if your pet can't see the flashes and the bangs are muffled they are less likely to become anxious.

Make sure they have a safe haven within the house to take themselves off to, a dog crate or some kind of enclosed area is ideal for this and put a large blanket over it as this is comforting and can help muffle the sounds.  This area should be towards the centre of the house and not near any windows or external doors, where the experience can be amplified and make the experience worse for your pet.

Resist the temptation to fuss over them – this can reinforce your pet’s behaviour and make their reaction worse and more exaggerated overtime.  Your pet is naturally responding to your change in behaviour so act normally and don't ignore them - i.e. treat them as you usually would and distract them.  Playtime and food/treat finding games are great distraction techniques.

Products There are many products on the market that aim to help pets who suffer from anxiety including during fireworks.  These include natural products that are given by mouth, pheromone plug-ins, collars & sprays for bedding.   Ideally choosing a natural product with veterinary advice will help to reduce/eliminate the anxiety.  Some preparations need to be given daily in advance of the anticipated event, so veterinary advice is important.

We avoid treatment with sedatives as they do not improve the pet's anxiety but sedate the pet, while still being fully aware of their surroundings.  There are other veterinary medicines that are prescribed to help with your pet's anxiety at this time if required.  We always recommend practical advice such as a safe haven and natural products first, before using veterinary prescription medicines.  But if this is needed and your pet hasn't been examined by us recently you will need to book an appointment.

All different types of animals can of course be affected by fireworks. 
Think of other pets, (e.g. chickens and small mammal pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits) at this time of year and where possible bring them into a garage or shed as they also find loud noises terrifying.  Horses can also be affected and owners need to consider their welfare during this time.   Even farm animals can be frightened by fireworks - please use all fireworks safely, think about where you are letting fireworks off and who and what might be affected.

Remember wildlife Always check beneath bonfires/incinerators before lighting them.  If it's possible, move the pile before lighting it.  If not use broom handles to lift from the base of the pile and shine torches while looking and listening carefully for any signs of life.   This may have become a cosy retreat for a very tired hedgehog who is thinking of hibernating.   

If you have the opportunity to start from scratch with a brand new pup or kitten, then make sure you safely expose them to a variety of sights and sounds found in every day life, from a very early age.   This way it is more likely your pet will be able to cope with a whole manner of experiences throughout their life, including fireworks.  NEVER take your pet to a firework display, whether a small show in your garden or a bigger event.  Often dogs exhibit signs of 'excitement' when in actual fact this is anxiety and fear.  We advise you NEVER put your pet in this situation - even , as mentioned above, they appear OK.

If your pet does suffer don’t feel as you are alone, we know how stressful it can be for you both!   Contact us on 01376 325511 for further advice.

Click here for the RSPCA's pet owner advice during the firework season

Glow Sticks are also a concern for your pet.   These tubes are made of pliable soft plastic and are easily chewed by a playful pet.  The liquid chemical that produce the glow in the dark effect can be irritant to pets even though they are low in toxicity.   And here' the science bit: The main component of this oily liquid is dibutyl phthalate.  It has a highly unpleasant taste and even a small amount in a cat or dog's mouth will cause immediate hypersalivation, frothing and foaming, along with possible hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour.  The liquid can also cause irritation to the skin and eyes. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with the glow stick chemical please ring us for advice - they will need oral fluids and irrigation of the areas the chemical has come into contact with.  If this includes their eyes, we will need to check that no ulcer has formed on the surface of the eye, which left untreated can be very painful.  Contact with the skin would also require irritation and in some cases treatment with a steroid cream - seeking advice quickly is essential.

Fireworks can contain a wide variety of different chemicals and not surprisingly if a pet comes into contact with a firework, in particular chewing and ingesting it, it is likely that a gastrointestinal upset will follow.  Fireworks can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort and ataxia.  Some of the ingredients of the firework including arsenic, can lead to a serious toxicity.  Again contact us as soon as you know your pet has been in contact and we will advice you.

Further information - RSPCA:
The RSPCA as a charity will, by all lawful means, prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of all animals.  It receives no government funding and its work can only continue through donations and volunteering by members of the public.   If you would like to know more about getting involved, click here.

Further information - more on fireworks and your pets:
Cats and Fireworks - Cats Protection click here
Helping your dog cope with Fireworks - Dogs Trust click here
Fireworks and Pets - Blue Cross click here
How to prepare your rabbit for fireworks night - Petplan click here