Firework season and pets – expert help to get them through
Start working with your pet as early as possible because it has a bigger impact. If you can start in the weeks before displays, great, but whenever you begin, it will be worth it.
1 – I have a puppy who has never seen or heard fireworks. What can I do beforehand?
With younger pets, fireworks can be very surprising. A pet owner needs to show them that loud noises cannot harm them and are not really scary. A simple way to help is to download or stream firework sounds on a low volume while they’re doing something they like, such as eating or playing. If your puppy seems ok with the sound, increase the volume over time. This can also work with other loud noises like thunder or heavy traffic.
2 – My older dog has always been scared of fireworks – I’m not sure what to do.
Take a similar approach as with a puppy to desensitize them and stop anxiety – but do it at an even slower pace. To begin, turn the volume extremely low and very gradually increase it, but only when your pet is enjoying another activity such as eating or playing with a toy. Watch them to check their body language is not giving away signs of anxiety. Remember the idea is to make them associate doing fun things while they can hear or see fireworks. Your vet may also be able to recommend therapies and supplements to be taken at home to calm their symptoms.
3 – What should I do when there is a display taking place nearby?
Before anything happens, take your dog on a walk and feed them. Keep curtains and doors closed and create a distraction such as turning the TV or radio on. This should help reduce the noise and lights from outside. If your dog is showing signs of fear – such as yawning, licking their lips, shaking or pacing – make sure there’s a place for them to hide and feel safe. Don’t ignore your pet whether they seem scared or not and give them lots of praise and attention if they come to you – let them know they are great! Ideally you should “change the subject” so fireworks become something positive. This could be a special treat or chew to keep them busy, or distract them with a play or training session.
4 – Is it right to keep my cat indoors on Firework Night?
It will not do any harm and it can keep them out of the way of fireworks, and the associated risk of becoming alarmed. Make them feel comfortable and relaxed and, again, close curtains and doors, and create background noise. Also give them places to hide and don’t forget an indoor litter try. With cats, it’s more helpful to act normal and let them find their own level – don’t fuss over them too much.
5 – Do fireworks affect small pets as well?
Yes! Species such as rabbits and guinea pigs are prey animals and can be scared by loud noises and bright lights. Companionship is the best thing to think about because, with the exception of hamsters, they are social animals that like to live in pairs or groups. This will help them remain calm. Keep them safe inside and don’t allow them into an outside run before any fireworks begin. At Woodgreen, we also recommend adding extra hides and bedding to small pets’ accommodation, with plenty of exciting treats which can be hidden to keep them distracted.
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