So this weekend will see many parts of the country, including mine, celebrating bonfire night! I love fireworks, however for me, I now have to consider the welfare of my dogs during this time.
Animals have acute hearing, loud bangs can cause them pain in their ears. There hearing is a lot more sensitive to sounds than us humans.
Fido is 4 years old, and has always been very sensitive to noises, so this time of year is even more stressful for him. Lola sees him stressed, and feels the need to bark too!
This week is also the start of Diwali celebrations. Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. It is celebrated also with fireworks.
This Tuesday was the start of the first firework display by us. Fido was extremely stressed, pacing around, barking, crying and hiding. It was a horrible couple of hours to watch and hear. Even after they had stopped he couldn’t relax, because for pets, they don’t know if its going to start up again or not!
To help, we give both our dogs calming tablets, and are doing so right through to the middle of next week. This doesn’t stop them getting stressed, but I hope in some way it does help them be a little calmer. You can get them from your local vets or online. I buy Magicalm from Healthspan, which I have shown to my vet to confirm it is safe for my dogs. If you are giving them calming tablets, make sure you check the dosage, and follow the instructions carefully. The link is here.
So what else do we do to help them? We make sure there are plenty of TV’s and radios on loudly around the house to block the noise out. Curtains and blinds are closed. I never shout at them as this stresses them out more. Instead, I cuddle them, and stroke them, using soothing sounds. They are even allowed to lie on the sofa with me for added comfort.
Fido likes sleeping under my hubby’s desk in his study. Lola under the chaise lounge. It is not uncommon for dogs to hide during times of stress. I leave them both there, if that is where they have gone, as for them, this is their safe place.
Dogs will also potentially become destructive at this time. Again, don’t get cross with them, it is their coping mechanism.
I make sure the dogs are walked well before the darkness falls. That way, I can eliminate any possibility of them being outdoors when a firework goes off. I never allow them in the garden until I know the fireworks are well and truly finished. This might mean they have a little accident, but it’s a small price to pay.
If you are out when displays start, get your dog home as soon as possible. Dogs will try and run and hide. Never walk them this time of year without a lead. They are likely to dash off, and could potentially be hit by a car or become lost. As soon as the first sound is heard, get them home to safety.
It isn’t just dogs that are effected by fireworks. Cats, rabbits, birds and even wildlife. More animals are killed on the roads this time of year, due to fireworks and they run around in panic.
If you have a cat, do the same as with my dogs. As they are a law unto themselves, you may need to bring them in a lot earlier. Make sure the catflap is closed or blocked, so they can’t get back out!
If your pets are in hutches/cages in the garden, bring them indoors. If not into the house, the garage. Make sure they have extra bedding and cover the hutch/cage.
If you can’t bring them in, cover them with think blankets or old duvets to block out some of the sound. Obviously, make sure they can still breath!
Make sure you check on them later.
You may think there isn’t a lot you can do to protect wildlife this time of year, and in some ways that is true.
Sadly, many types of animals will be hit by cars, trying to flee fireworks, especially deer. These can also cause damage to vehicles.
If you have bird baths or feeders in your garden, take them down early afternoon. This will prevent them coming out of the safety of their nests or trees. If you can’t remove them, cover them up.
We will all have seen fireworks lying on the ground after a display. When it is safe to do so, make sure you discard of them. The firework will still contain dangerous toxins, which if eaten by animals, could kill them.
I don’t want to spoil everyone’s fun. As I said, I love fireworks, but with a bit of planning, we can make it relaxing for both humans and animals alike.
If you see an injured animal, please contact your local vet or RSPCA on 0300 1234 999