Orchard Vet's Blog
Fireworks are no laughing matter
Last week a Gloucestershire-based fireworks company ran an advertising campaign with the slogan, "We don't sell pet ear defenders but we do sell fawking good fireworks". They faced a backlash of outrage on social media.
Fireworks are are a source of anxiety and fear for many pets. To our furry friends, loud bangs and flashes are strange, startling and unexplained. There are several things you can do to help your pet cope, both this week and in the long-term.
Create a den now, perhaps behind the sofa or under the bed, using blankets. Many pets try to hide when they hear fireworks - let them hide where they like to be. Don't force your pet into the den but offer healthy treats when they use it (to build a positive association). Make toys available and ensure they have plenty of water.
Exercise your dog in the evening, well before fireworks are due to begin, and make sure they're fed before fireworks start too as they may become too anxious to eat.
While fireworks are going off, keep doors and windows closed and the curtains drawn, cover hutches and cages with blankets and use plenty of straw bedding - all of which offers sound-proofing. Play music to mask the sound - something with a repetitive beat is best - or put the TV on.
Don't offer extra comfort to your pet when they respond with agitation as this may be counter-productive. Ignore them and act normally, otherwise they will sense your anxiety and may learn that you will reward their fear.
Keep any cat-flaps closed and make sure your pets are microchipped and their details are up-to-date, just in case.
Beyond firework season, there are several things you can do to help your pet in the long term.
If you're particularly concerned by your pet's response to loud noises then bring them in for an assessment. We'll make sure it's not the result of a medical condition and can let you know whether behavioural therapy would be beneficial.
Play a CD with firework and other noises to let your pet get used to the noise - play at a low voume initially and gradually turn it up with each play. We stock the Sounds for Life CD at all our branches.
Attend one of our Puppy Socialisation Parties - available to any puppies as long as they have had their first vaccination and are younger than 18 weeks old.
Sometimes medication is helpful - again, please come in for a consultation if you would like to discuss this option.
You can download the RSPCA's leaflet, "Fireworks frighten animals - help them feel safe", here.