Lancaster vets urge owners to plan ahead to prevent pets from being spooked by fireworks
and live on Freeview channel 276
As Bonfire Night approaches, vets are expecting a rise in calls from worried owners whose pets are frightened by the loud bangs and sudden flashes of light from the pyrotechnics.
The celebrations often start days before the main event on November 5 and continue afterwards, causing some animals to become anxious or to run away.
Now Helen Griffin, senior vet and clinical director at Lancaster Vets in Bowerham Road, is advising pet owners to prepare early before the fireworks season begins to help keep animals calm, especially if they are unnerved by noise.
Helen recommends that cats and dogs are kept safely indoors during the fireworks period to prevent injury and stress and that windows and doors are kept shut to prevent them bolting through fear.
Pets should also wear collars and tags, while microchips should be up to date so they can be reunited with their owner if they flee.
Helen said: “This can be a difficult time for pets and their owners, with the fireworks season stretching over several weeks. We would advise people to think ahead to help keep animals happy, safe and comfortable.”
“Dogs should not be left alone during this time and even pets that have previously shown no fear can become sensitive, so it is advisable to speak to your vet for advice.
“The biggest worry is that many pets will bolt through fear at this time of year so make sure doors and windows are shut.
“Providing a safe place where they can hide, like a den, is a good idea and there are also over-the-counter therapies that can help to keep them calm.”
Playing music can help to calm pets showing signs of fireworks phobia, or simply turn up familiar sounds, such as the television or radio to distract them. Using a CD of fireworks noises to gradually get them used to the sound in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night so your pet learns there’s nothing to be afraid of may help.
Pheromones, which are available as diffusers, releasing scent undetectable to humans, can have a calming, reassuring effect on pets and can be used for several weeks leading up to fireworks season.
Fireworks are also used at other celebrations when care should be taken to protect pets, such as Diwali, the five-day festival of light from October 22 marking the start of the Hindu New Year, and New Year’s Eve.
Helen has issued 10 expert-approved tips to keep pets safe and calm:
Keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.
Make sure your dog is walked earlier in the day before fireworks start.
Shut windows and doors and block off catflaps to stop pets running off if they get frightened.
Close the curtains and turn up the TV or music to distract them from the noise of fireworks.
Make sure cats and dogs are wearing collars and tags in case they bolt and ensure microchip details are up to date so they can be quickly reunited with you.
Avoid leaving your pet home alone in the evenings when fireworks are going off.
Keep calm and reassure your pet to make them feel safe and secure. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed.
Prepare a safe place or ‘den’ where your pet can hide when fireworks start so they feel safe and comfortable.
Cover rabbit hutches or aviaries with blankets to block out sight of fireworks and reduce sound of bangs.
Bring hutches or cages indoors, if possible, or into a garage or shed.