Firework season is upon us which can prove a stressful time for many pets and their owners alike.
Many dogs and cats are fearful of the loud and sudden bangs that are heard sporadically during this time of year.
The fireworks season tends to start earlier each year, extending from October right through to New Year's Eve celebrations.
The law says you must not set off or throw fireworks, including sparklers, in the street or other public places.
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You must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight and New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am.
For pets affected by loud noises, the fireworks season can be a terrifying time. With so many dogs affected by the loud bangs of fireworks, pet owners can plan ahead to take steps to help keep pets calm during this time of year.
Signs your pet may be stressed
Pets can show signs of stress or anxiety in a number of ways, which include:
- Hiding away from the family
- Vocalisation (more than normal)
- Scratching or chewing furniture
- Ears pinned or pulled back
- Tail lowered
- In some cases, aggression
RVN Korina Stephens from nutra vet said: "This time of year can be extremely stressful for pets and their owners. With current restrictions in place across the UK, many families will not be able to visit a public organised display.
"This could lead to more loud noises in the neighbourhood as families enjoy DIY displays in their own gardens.
“There are some positive steps that pet owners can take in order to help keep dogs and cats calm during this time. It’s also important to remember smaller pets such as rabbits who could still be outside at this time of year.
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Preparing in advance for the fireworks is always a good way to ensure this time of year is stress free.
"As an owner, it's never nice to see you four-legged friend scared or stressed. If you are worried about your pet during this time, speak to your vet who is best placed to offer advice.
"They will be able to recommend a calming supplement such as nutra calm or offer advice on behaviour techniques for extreme forms of anxiety."
Top tips to help calm your pet
To help your dog at this stressful time, there are some tips to help:
Get your pet used to bangs
In the run up to Bonfire Night, you could help your pet to become used to the bangs associated with fireworks. There is plenty of downloadable content on YouTube, which could help.
However, be sure to check with a behaviourist or vet first in case your dog has an extreme noise phobia, as this could make it worse.
Make sure your pets microchip details are up to date
Check that your pet’s microchip details are up to date in case they escape and run off in fear during the fireworks. If your pet goes missing their microchip or collar will allow them to be easily returned.
When the fireworks begin:
Provide a den
This can be an enclosed 'safe place' for your pet to hide. Cover the top and all sides of a crate, table or cupboard near the centre of the home, or where they have previously hidden. Make it comfortable.
You can even add a jumper or t-shirt of yours that will smell familiar to them. Let them come and go as they please.
When the fireworks go off, stay calm yourself and don't react, as your pet will react to you.
Try not to worry and don't get angry with your dog or over fuss them, just reassure them gently and be as normal as possible.
Keep pets indoors
To prevent extra stress and anxiety from your dog, keep them indoors during the fireworks.
Walk your dog early in the day before the fireworks are likely to start and make sure they have had an opportunity to go to the toilet outside well before it gets dark.
Mask the sound of fireworks
Try and mask the sound of fireworks by turning up the volume on the TV or playing some music, especially if you have to leave your pet home alone for a few hours.
You could also muffle the sound of the fireworks by closing the curtains and windows.
Provide your dog with plenty of toys to distract them from the loud noises. Ignore the fireworks yourself and play with them.
If they prefer to be left alone, don’t force them to play.
Stick to your routine
Try to keep to all normal routines as much as possible, such as feeding times. This will help to reduce any stress for your pet.
Ask your vet about nutracalm, which is recommended by thousands of vets across the UK and Ireland to naturally calm anxious and stressed pets.
Nutracalm is a fast-acting natural supplement that calms pets within one to two hours, without any sedative effect and is ideal to give to pets in advance of the fireworks or during Bonfire Night.