With Bonfire Night fast approaching, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is encouraging owners to start easing their pets into the fireworks season to prevent possible distress.
At 150 decibels, fireworks can be as loud as a jet engine and, with dogs, cats and other pets particularly sensitive to noise, this time of the year can be traumatic and upsetting for many.
Yet with more owners consulting Dr Google (38 per cent) then their local vet (23 per cent) to answer queries and concerns about their dogs’ behaviour, BVA is offering simple evidence-based advice to help owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health and welfare this fireworks season.
Signs of distress can vary among different animals. While some pets show obvious signs such as panting, drooling and attempts to escape, there are also more subtle signs that owners should be aware of, including restlessness and toileting in the house.
Cats often hide, while rabbits may keep very still and thump the ground with their back feet.
BVA president John Fishwick said: “While fireworks are fun for adults and children, the loud noises and bright flashes can be traumatic for many animals.
“Owners can keep pets calm and safe a number of ways, from starting to prepare a ‘safe place’ for pets now, through to providing background noise when fireworks are going off and, most importantly, staying calm themselves.
“If your pet gets severely distressed by fireworks, we would encourage you to speak to your vet as early as possible to discuss treatment options, which can achieve long-term success with professional input and owner commitment and patience.”
Top tips ahead of the fireworks season:
- If your pet gets severely distressed by fireworks or other noises, contact your vet to discuss treatment options.
- Start creating a well-padded den for your pet to access ahead of fireworks season so they have a safe place to hide when fireworks start.
- Pheromone products prescribed by your vet can be used next to your pets’ den and around the house to help calm them.
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and your details up to date on the database, in case it runs away from home.
- Move small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs to a quiet place indoors.
- Close windows and curtains and provide background noise to help mask the fireworks.
- If your pet is distressed, remain calm yourself – trying to reassure your pet can inadvertently reinforce anxious behaviour, and restlessness or toileting in the house can be signs of stress so don’t punish them.