Remember Remember – Keeping Pets Calm During Fireworks

a dog and a cat at the window watching fireworks

It’s the time of year when the nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and the shops are filling up with pumpkins and ghosts, ready for Halloween, and we’re starting our exciting countdown to Christmas. But it’s also the time of year when pet owners worry the most about their furry friends because the start of November means one thing – fireworks.

While fireworks might be thrilling for us humans, it’s a different story for our four-legged friends; they often exceed 150 decibels (to put that into context, a military jet is around 130 and a conversation is 55) and it’s estimated that 45% of dogs, and 79% of horses, show fear when they hear fireworks.

83% of vets questioned think that fireworks should be more closely regulated and only allowed on certain dates, or at licensed events.

Why Do Fireworks Affect Our Pets?

Unpredictable loud noises can be stressful for animals, their heightened senses mean they are more sensitive to flashes of light, strange smells and loud noises.

We humans understand what is happening and why, but an animal doesn’t, and as fireworks aren’t an everyday occurrence they’re not something an animal can learn to get used to.

While the chances of your pet being injured by an actual firework are pretty low, they can become confused and frightened and hurt themselves if they panic and try to get away from the loud noises; horses in particular can try to run away when they hear fireworks, which can lead to them injuring themselves by running into fences or even injuring their owners.

a dog hiding under a chair to feel safe during fireworks

Dogs and Fireworks

Signs They Are Stressed

Take a look at our guide to understanding your dog’s body language, in the meantime, here are some obvious signs of stress:

  • Trembling
  • Panting
  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Destructive/aggressive behaviour
  • Flattened ears

How to Calm a Dog

Of course, you know your dog better than anyone, but there are few things you could try:

  • Keep windows and curtains shut to muffle any sounds/flashes.
  • Have the TV on or play soothing music. There are lots of videos on YouTube that are specifically designed to calm anxious pets.
  • Find out in advance when local displays are taking place so you can be prepared.
  • Walk your dog in the daylight so they’re less likely to be outside when fireworks are set off.
  • Create a safe space for them, and look at where they go if they’re ever feeling scared or unsettled.
  • You could try a pheromone diffuser, or a compression vest to help keep them calm. Always talk to your vet first about this kind of thing.
a cat hiding under a blanket

Cats And Fireworks

Signs They Are Stressed

Cats are well-known for being aloof, so it might not be as easy to recognise when they’re stressed. We put together some tips for understanding your cat, but there are also some obvious signs to look out for:

  • Hiding
  • Running away
  • Refusing food
  • Restlessness/zoomies
  • Unusual behaviour/body language

How to Calm a Cat

  • Stay in with them, even if they hide away, it will help them if they know you’re around.
  • Let them have access to the whole house, it may make them more stressed if they’re confined to one room.
  • Keep curtains and windows closed.
  • Give them some space, as tempting as it might be to pick them up and cuddle them, let them come to you.
  • Try a pheromone diffuser.
  • Provide hiding spaces.
a horse looking stressed

Horses And Fireworks

Signs They Are Stressed

  • They’re more vocal
  • Sweating
  • Pawing the ground
  • Kicking
  • Repetitive head movements
  • Flared nostrils
  • Refusing food
  • Tail swishing

How To Calm A Horse

  • Check dates/times of displays in advance.
  • Stick to their usual routine.
  • If possible, try to stay with, or near, your horse, remembering to keep yourself safe if they become distressed.
  • It’s usually best to keep your horse in a familiar environment, but if your horse is usually outside you might want to think about stabling them, although of course, this needs advance planning and be aware that they can still get scared in a stable and injure themselves.
  • Wherever they are, check for things that could injure them if they panic, for example, are the fences in their field secure? Are there any protruding nails in the stable?
  • Try playing music or have the radio on if your horse is stabled.
  • Remember to check them over the next day, in case they have injured themselves.

Smaller Pets

If you have smaller pets in cages, think about bringing them inside, although this will need to be planned in advance so that you can introduce it gradually. It’s a good idea to make sure they have plenty of bedding to hide in. It might be worth covering their cages with a blanket too, to muffle any sound, just make sure there’s a gap that they can see out of.

a dog hiding under a jumper

Fireworks don’t just happen at Bonfire night, we now have them at other times throughout the year; New Year, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and 4th of July, and they’re also used at parties, weddings, and concerts. The key thing for us as pet owners is to stay calm, have plenty of treats on hand, and make sure our pets know that they’re in a loving and secure environment.

We love our pets, they’re part of the family; we want them to feel safe and protected and pet insurance for cats and dogs (and horse insurance) is an important part of this. Just as our four-legged friends are all different, so are our policies, and you can tailor them to your needs and budget, giving you the freedom to enjoy your pet without some of the additional worries. Give us a call today for a free, no-strings quote.

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