How to protect your pets on Fireworks’ Night

The beginning of November can be a frightening time for your pets, who don’t know what to make of the tremendous noises and flashing lights that fill our skies.

Here’s our essential guide on how to keep your pets calm and happy in the dark and exciting early November nights.

Jack Russell Terrier Senior in a cozy room

Dogs and cats

  • Walk your dog before the fireworks are due to start, and do not take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if your dog appears calm around fireworks, watch out for the quieter signs of distress, such as heavy yawning or panting.
  • Always keep dogs and cats inside when you know fireworks will be let off, shutting doors & windows and locking catflaps firmly shut. Make sure a cat litter tray is available.
  • You can prepare a safe ‘den’ for your pet in a quiet corner, or under a bed with soft bedding or possibly some of your old clothes which will smell familiar. You can introduce them to this well in advance of and they may like to hide quietly while the fireworks are on.
  • Muffle the sound of fireworks by drawing curtains, and leave a familiar radio or TV programme on to provide distraction from loud bangs.
  • Comfort your pet and let them express their distress or hide away if need be – do not get angry or try to coax them out of their hiding place as this will distress them further. Calm praise and cuddles may help to relax them.
  • The RSPCA and the Blue Cross advise pet owners to get veterinary help for their animal six to 12 weeks before the firework season begins.
  • Vets also recommend using Sounds Scary to get your dog used to loud sounds. These purpose-made set of recordings come with a training guide and should be used in advance of fireworks night.
Advertisement

Small pets

  • Small animals are easily frightened and if possible any hutches should be brought indoors or into a shed. If they cannot be brought indoors you should cover the cage or hutch with blankets to block out as much noise as possible and provide extra cosy bedding to hide in. make sure there is plenty of ventilation.

iStock_000014752923_Small-17cd564

Horses, ponies and livestock

  • Communicate with neighbours and the organisers of local fireworks displays to inform them you have horses and livestock, and ensure fireworks are not set off nearby. A British Horse Society Fireworks Awareness poster is available to download here, and it can be displayed in local shops and on gates or noticeboards.
  • Ideally, stay with your horse and remain calm and positive – horses will pick up on any worry. If you cannot stay with your horse, make sure that someone experienced is on hand to keep an eye out and help them stay relaxed.
  • If possible stick to the routine and environment your horse is familiar with so that they do not pick up on any disruption. However, if you know your horse has a bad reaction to loud sounds you could arrange to move your horse away from the fireworks for a night or two.
  • Keep lights on in barns and stables, and you could also try playing gentle music to muffle the sounds of fireworks, although this should be tried in advance so that the music is a familiar, comforting experience, and not alien to the horse/s.
  • CDs can also be purchased to get horses used to loud sounds in advance of firework night.
  • Never go out for a ride while fireworks are on, and at all times be aware of your own safety in case your horse is distressed.

 

Also…

  • Before you release your animals back outdoors, do a thorough check of the land to collect any sparklers, firecrackers, or broken firework debris, as well as party items and other litter.
iStock_000074008905_Small-8e84fd9

Laws you should know about fireworks

  • It is illegal for anyone under 18 to possess a firework in a public place
  • Fireworks cannot be set off by a private individual between 11.00pm and 7.00am except for certain nights of the year
  • Under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty on conviction is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment, or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests with Trading Standards, the Police or the RSPCA as appropriate.
  • Unless retailers possess a special licence they may only sell fireworks from 15 October to 10 November and 26 to 31 December

And watch out for burglaries:

  • Burglary claims on Bonfire Night are over 20 per cent more than average
  • This is believed to be because opportunistic burglars exploit noise and distractions and the increased likelihood of homeowners being out to watch firework displays, light bonfires and for other festivities.
  • Another factor is the darker nights that follow the clocks going back – statistics show household theft claims from late October onwards, peaking on Bonfire Night
  • Claims for malicious damage to the home increase by as much as 56% on 5 November
  • Insurance company Aviva suggests locking doors and windows and leaving radio and lights on, or using timers, to give the impression that people are at home.
  • It also recommends using security devices like those provided by Canary, which it is working with, that work using smartphone technology via an app
  • Canary allows you to tap into a live feed to your home at any time, store video evidence in the device’s cloud and remotely trigger a 90db siren to scare off any intruders you spot on camera. It’s also an effective way to check in remotely on any pets at home that might be frightened by the fireworks.
Advertisement

Words by Agnes Davis