Fireworks and animals

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Advice on keeping pets calm and safe during Bonfire Night.

As the owner of local pet care company, Petpals Sheffield (NW), I am writing to remind all The Star readers that Bonfire Night is nearly upon us and.

We’d like to ask them to spend a few minutes thinking about how they will look after their pets, for whom the loud pops, bangs and whizzes of fireworks, can be very stressful.

We’ve gathered together tips from all of our experienced pet carers, on how to keep their pets safe and calm during this fireworks season.

Cats can be timid creatures at the best of times and fireworks can really scare them. Add to that their regular nocturnal activities and you have a potentially dangerous situation.

Keep your cat indoors after dark and provide a litter tray if he/she is used to going outdoors. However, be aware that shutting a cat indoors, when it usually comes and goes as it pleases, will be stressful in itself, particularly in multi-cat households.

Frightened cats like somewhere safe to hide, so ensure that they get under a bed, on top of a wardrobe, inside an igloo cat bed or in a cardboard box etc.

Make sure your cats are microchipped, so that if they do run away they can be identified when found and that if you have moved, you’ve updated your address details with the chipping company.

Try to keep all doors and windows shut, with curtains closed, TV and music on quietly, to reduce noise and light flashes and the chance of them escaping.

Try to avoid reinforcing fearful behaviour by soothing and reassuring an anxious looking cat. Fearful cats are best left to cope on their own.

Consider something like a ‘Feliway’ pheromone-based diffuser from your vet.

With dogs make sure you are back from your walk before it gets dark and the bangs start. If necessary when letting the dog out later take it out on a lead into your garden so you can get it straight back in if it appears too scared. Put paper down in case of overnight accidents.

Shut all doors and windows; a frightened dog running around on the road outside could cause a terrible accident.

Make sure their microchips are up to date so, should the worst happen, your pet can be returned to you as soon as possible.

Make a den for your dog to hide in if they want to eg: a travel cage covered with a heavy blanket or rug. Set this up a few weeks before necessary to get them used to it.

Curtains drawn, music and TV on and follow your usual routine.

If your dog is distressed and comes to you for comfort feel free to stroke him/her, however do not go to them.

You may like to visit https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets and download their free Sounds Scary noises of fireworks that you can play to desensitise your pet.

The next day go out into your garden and collect up any fireworks that have landed in your garden before your dog eats them!

Talk to your vet about using a diffuser such as Adaptil.

Horses can get just as scared of fireworks as cats and dogs, so have a think about how you are going to get your ponies through the firework season.

Speak to people who live close to your horse’s field. Find out if they are planning a fireworks party. Ask them not to use Chinese lanterns which have been known to cause horrendous burns to the animals they land on, not to mention the danger to any livestock’s intestines if they eat the wire as it lays in the grass the next day.

Bring your horse into a stable, where it will be safe and where you can keep checking it regularly.

Revisit your fire safety drill in case hay/straw catches fire from a rogue firework or Chinese lantern

In the morning, check your horse’s field for debris/fireworks, that have landed in the field.

If possible bring rabbits/guinea pigs inside, into the garage or the house.

Consider draping a duvet/blanket over the cage during the worst of the bangs, to muffle the noise. Make sure there is still plenty of air getting in.

If people are worried, we would advise them to talk to their vets as soon as possible.

Yvonne Jarvis

Petpals Sheffield (NW)