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Fireworks Are No Fun For Pets

Aug 17, 2007
Its October 20 here in the UK and bonfire night approaches. The shops are full of fireworks and the kids are clamouring to buy them. You can already hear odd ones going off during the day where they just cant wait, and my dog, who is nervous at the best of times has already started to react to them. He is really scared by any loud noise and fireworks have him trembling and whining all night.

What makes me saddest is that there is nothing I can really do to stop it, I can only try to make him more comfortable. At least I do try. I am completely horrified by the way that some thoughtless people treat there pets on such occasions.

I have seen people taking dogs to firework parties, leaving them in the car whilst they attend a display, leaving animals outside completely unprotected in any way from the noise and bright lights, and even a poor horse left out in a field right next to a firework display. Are we thoughtless or just plain uncaring. I have to believe in the former so, I am going to treat it as that and again list what you can do to help your pet over these (or any other) very noisy occasions.

What are the signs that your pet is scared

Shaking, trembling
Excessive drooling
Barking, howling
Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
Refusing to eat food
Some animals may have loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress

Please be aware though that these are general signs that something is wrong, they can also relate to other ailments, so if in doubt see your vet.

This is how you can really help your pet during fireworks

LEAVE your dogs at home please; if you attend a display, dont take them with you or leave them in the car, its just not fair. Even the most stable dog will hate the sudden noises, and that includes Guide Dogs who can get really upset and this can affect their normally great performance as a guide. If you must go out then dont make a big deal about leaving them, keep it all as normal as possible, and make sure you leave all the curtains closed and the TV on.

At home let them find a place to hide in if thats what they like to do, and leave them there. If they whine and pace around, let them alone, its their way of dealing with it. If they want a cuddle they will ask you. If your pet is in a cage indoors then cover it with a blanket. If you can get the dog or cat into a carrier or cage they will feel much safer (if they are used to it of course, if they never go into one then dont force them now). Dont forget to put their favourite toy in with them.

Close the curtains and put on the TV or music and keep it as loud as you can bear. This will block out some of the outside noise. I have a TV in most rooms so I turn each one on (to a different channel) and for one night ignore the environmentalists who would have me turn off the ones I am not watching. Sorry folks but tonight my dog is more important.

If the animals are outside in hutches or cages, give them extra bedding to burrow into and cover the hutch with a heavy blanket to keep out as much light as possible. If your horses are out please bring them into stables or if they dont have stables then make sure that they are as far away from any potential fireworks as possible.

If they are stressed, and behaving badly please dont shout at them, this will only make it worse. Dogs and cats left indoors on their own will often do damage if they are scared. Take precautions if you must leave them and put them into a safe, smaller place like a carrier or crate (not a cupboard!) but an area where they can make a nest to curl up in. My mums dog heads for the wardrobe every time and curls up in the back of it. She seems to feel safe there and its dark. Remember that if really stressed they are also very likely to hurt themselves as well.

What else can you do?

Some people say that Bachs Rescue Remedies can work and also aromatherapy. You can also get a Dog Appeasing pheromone treatment from your vet that is well worth trying, and they have therapeutic music to play that should calm your pet. I personally think that the use of music is really good, but what I am trying to do is drown out the outside noise and the bright lights.

The main thing is to make sure that your animal is secure. Close windows and outside doors and lock them if you have a Houdini Dog like mine who can open most doors. Dont forget to block the dog or cat flap. Dogs have been known to burrow under fences, break windows and jump huge fences in a bid to escape loud noises if they have been left outside. Dont walk them at night either, do it during the day, and keep them on a leash just in case any are let off early.

The days following firework events can be a nightmare for animal shelters as all
the escaped animals who have fled in panic are brought in, and youd be surprised at how far they can go when scared. Put some thought into caring for your pet and take the load off the shelters. After all, you asked for your pet, he didnt ask for you. Its your responsibility to take good care of him.
About the Author
Debbie Boffa has spent years raising and training rescue dogs. Her new book Dog Obedience Training and a new website http://www.trainingdogsrus.com are the result. She would love to see you there to get your FREE dog training tips
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