With fireworks season fast approaching, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is warning millions of animal owners to start preparing now if they suspect their pet may become distressed. 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 distressing time of year for dogs, cats and other pets.
From 10 October this year, it will become an offence in Scotland to purchase fireworks for children under the age of 16 under the new Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022. BVA’s Scottish Branch had campaigned alongside other organisations for stricter legislation around the sale and use of fireworks and has welcomed this ban.
BVA will also be pushing its annual #FireworkSafety campaign with the Scottish Government, Scottish SPCA and other leading organisations to raise awareness of the impact of fireworks on people and animals.
If your pet is severely distressed by fireworks or other noises, an early visit to your vet to discuss treatment options can help to keep them calm and reduce their stress in the period around Diwali (24 October) and Bonfire Night (5 November). It is particularly important this year as many vet practices are experiencing staff shortages, meaning owners may need to allow more time to secure an appointment.
A phobia of fireworks can be effectively treated with behaviour-modification techniques, administered with professional input, and owner commitment and patience. For less-severely affected animals BVA is offering simple evidence-based advice to help owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health and welfare this fireworks season.
Five top tips to help keep your pets calm during fireworks:
Prepare a den for your pet around two weeks before fireworks season and give them praise when they are relaxed there, so they come to view it as a safe retreat.
Use pheromone products next to the den and around the home. These are scents that we can’t smell but can help to reduce a pet’s stress.
Provide background noise and close curtains and windows on nights when fireworks are expected.
Remain calm yourself. Never punish your pet – remember, if they toilet in the house it’s not their fault.
Move small pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, to a quiet place indoors when fireworks are expected, and provide lots of bedding to mask the sounds.