The whistle, crack and fizz of fireworks – what's not to love about Bonfire Night? Well, if you're the family pet, not a great deal.
Generally, dogs, cats and other animals can be anxious, stressed and upset when they hear and see fireworks. Studies have shown household pets to demonstrate emotions of fear when exposed to them.
Animal charity Blue Cross
says one of the key reasons for this is down to biology: most cats and dogs have very acute hearing and are more sensitive to loud noises.
It's not just the roaring crack at the end of a firework that causes pain; the whistle of the firework shooting up into the air can also cause distress.
Here's how you can look after the health and wellbeing of your pet during fireworks, especially the big displays towards the end of the year.
First things first
Firstly, visit your local vet, especially if you've noticed your dog or cat struggles with fireworks.
Your vet may prescribe pheromone diffusers specific to dogs or cats, or refer you to a clinical animal behaviourist.
Firework phobia is a treatable condition. You could try some sound therapy at home too: CDs of scary sounds are readily available and designed to help animals get used to whistles, whooshes, cracks and bangs.
Ideas to help calm your pet
- If you're attending an event or setting off fireworks in your back garden, make sure your dog or cat is safely indoors with no way of getting out
- Adapt your walking times during fireworks season, so your pet is not unduly exposed to unnerving sounds
- Close all relevant doors, windows, blinds and curtains so external sights and sounds are reduced
- Leave on your TV or radio. If your pet is used to having these on during the evening, it will go a long way to keeping things as normal as possible
- Be patient with your pet if they're in distress. Let them whine, pace around and find a safe spot they feel comfortable in
- Don't cuddle or comfort your pet above what you normally would. This will exacerbate the problem
Should your dog or cat accidentally get out during the firework season and get injured, make sure you have the local vet, pet hospital and your insurance company details to hand so that you can get help as quickly as possible.