Fireworks season sparks British Veterinary Association calls for pet safety
With the fireworks season fast approaching, vets are encouraging pet owners and animal keepers to start preparing now to prevent possible injury and distress to their pets and livestock during traditional dates such as Bonfire Night, Diwali or New Year’s Eve.
At up to 150 decibels, fireworks can be as loud as a jet engine and, with many animals particularly sensitive to noise, this can be a traumatic and upsetting time of the year for them.
BVA is encouraging pet owners and livestock keepers to consult with their vet as far in advance as possible to discuss management and treatment options if their animals get severely distressed by fireworks or other noises. A phobia of fireworks can be effectively treated with appropriate behaviour-modification techniques, which can achieve long-term success with professional input and owner commitment and patience.
BVA is offering simple evidence-based advice to help owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health and welfare this fireworks season.
Top tips to keep animals safe ahead of fireworks season:
- If your pet gets distressed by fireworks or other noises, contact your local vet to discuss treatment options. This may include drugs to help dogs with noise phobias or pheromone products to apply next to your pets’ den and around the house to keep them calm.
- Create a well-padded den for your pet to access ahead of fireworks season so they have a safe place to hide when fireworks start.
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and your details are 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. Restlessness or toileting in the house can be signs of stress, so don’t punish them.
- Keep livestock housed at times when fireworks are likely to be set off locally and remove any firework debris from grazing pasture before letting them out.
- Horses may be better turned out in a field than stabled, as in a stable they may feel enclosed and unable to move. Owners should consult a qualified equine behaviourist if they have significant concerns about their horse’s response to fireworks.
- If you’re hosting a fireworks display, avoid setting them off near horses, livestock or companion animals. Dispose of any debris and remnants of fireworks responsibly.
Before lighting a bonfire, remember to check for any wild animals that may be hiding in it.