As bonfire night approaches, the annual influx of posts on social media about people setting off fireworks weeks in advance and the terrified animals, as a result, takes over everyone's feed. This is typically followed by a huge amount of 'lost dog' posts where dogs have been out for walks and spooked by sudden and thunderous bangs they cannot begin to comprehend. Their instinctual flight response kicks in to evade the imminent threat they perceive the firework to be.
What is the point of fireworks anyway?
"Fireworks are a class of low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes." (Fireworks, 2020)
The age of public sale of fireworks is just 18 and can be purchased from most supermarkets. So teenagers can wander into Asda and purchase an explosive device for entertainment purposes- what could go wrong?
"Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks - devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death." (NFPA - Fireworks, 2020)
As the government has expressed nothing will be changing anytime soon with the sale of public fireworks, what can we do to protect our pets this year?
- Ensure your pet's collars and microchips are up to date.
- Take your dog out for a long walk early in the day before fireworks start.
- Avoid walking your dog when fireworks start, no matter how 'bombproof' you think your dog is.
- ALWAYS keep your dog on a lead during this time, even during the day.
- If, for some reason, you insist on walking your dog after fireworks have started double lead your dog, you can attach a lead to a collar and to a harness to reduce the risk of your dog fleeing.
- Ensure collars and harnesses are secure.
- Where possible, keep cats safely indoors during this time.
- Avoid rugging horses if possible during this time.
- Play white noise to muffle out fireworks' noise. Whitenoise machines can be purchased online, or white noise can be found on Youtube. Alternatively, play calming music.
- Purchase a thundershirt for your dog (Amazon currently has these on deal). These are the vet's number 1 recommendation for calming dogs during fireworks.
- Keep treats and new toys/games for your pet to focus their attention on something else during this time.
- Remain calm; your pet will pick up on any distress you are feeling.
Some dog trainers recommend playing fireworks sounds throughout the year. This is a great way to desensitise your dog to the loud noises so that when bonfire night approaches, they do not become overly stressed.
Comment below on any extra measures you are taking this year to ensure your pet's safety during this time.