It’s getting to that time of year where fireworks become a regular feature in our evenings. As spectacular as fireworks are; it is important to ensure that we’re taking care of our pets and native wildlife before, during and after our firework displays. Events coordinator, Zoe, has listed some handy hints and tips on how to host and handle a successful fireworks event.
When planning a firework display please try and stick to traditional celebration dates such as Bonfire night and New Years Eve as many pet owners are expecting fireworks at this time. Pets and local wildlife can often become stressed or anxious when fireworks are used as pets can be unsure of the origin or reason for the noise. Its important to remember that pets have super sensitive hearing and if its loud for you and I, you can bet its louder for them.
If you are planning a firework display on an alternative date, the 'let people know' section will be really important for you.
It is important that you do not host your display near livestock or horses, you must also be aware of other displays which may be going on close by (you don’t want to double book your space!)
Also try to keep clear of wooded areas or areas you know as a habitat to local wildlife, such as hedgehogs or mice. Where possible, try and get information about the native wildlife spotted at your area of choice- that way you know what to look for.
Where possible please use lower-noise fireworks as this will reduce the stress caused to surrounding wildlife and pets.
Let people know
Make sure you give local farmers and pet owners advanced notice of your display, particularly if it is outside of a traditional celebration date and if they are close to your display site.
Besides local farmers and pet owners near your site, it is also important to tell as many pet owners as possible, be sure to search Facebook for local community groups and let them know too.
If you are planning to build a bonfire alongside your display it is important to do this as close to the time as possible to avoid local wildlife nesting in it, as a pile of wood and leaves can look very appealing to a chilly hedgehog.
Before you light your bonfire be sure to:
Look: inside for any hidden creatures
Shake: give your bonfire a little shake before taking a second look inside, to double check there are no animals inside that you missed on your first look
Shift: ‘up sticks’ and move your bonfire away from its original spot, it doesn’t have to be far, just far enough to disturb any wildlife which may be sleeping inside.
During the display
If you’re not hosting or attending a display, here are some tips to distract your pets from the noise and sight of fireworks.
If you are aware that your pet suffers with stress and anxiety caused by firework displays, please get in touch with your vet as they may be able to prescribe some medication or pheromone diffusers to calm them. (Speaking from experience the diffusers can really work!)
Where possible, exercise your dog or let your cat out in day light hours to avoid their being outdoors during prime display time.
Close those windows
As soon as it begins to get dark outside it is best to close your windows and curtains.
Create a safe space
Dogs: Set up a corner, or space, away from the windows with their bed and some toys for distraction. Treats work well too during the displays. Where possible, try not to leave your dog on its own during this period.
Cats: Make sure your cat has somewhere to hide, this may be a regular place or one set up for them, that is warm and dark for them to feel safe in.
Small mammals: Indoors, or outdoors, it is important to cover parts of their cage with a blanket to help muffle the sound.
Jo Gregson, one of our Zoo vets, suggests putting a duvet over a table to create a safe, dark, den for your cat or dog.
Mask the sound
Try playing music in the house to help mask the sound of fireworks outside.
Extra top tips
• If you ignore the fireworks, your pet is more likely to ignore them
• Remain calm, your pet feels your stress. The calmer you are, the calmer they are
• Make sure they can’t get out of the house: if they’re stressed inside- just imagine what they’d be like outside
If your pet’s stresses about fireworks and loud noises are persistent, it may be best to seek some help before future firework seasons. This may be medication, or in the case of dogs, some therapy sessions.
Post display pick up
Don’t forget! Debris and litter from fireworks can be harmful to animals too. Be sure to pick up as much as you can once your display has ended. (Please wait for it to cool first!)