I’m sure lots of people attended bonfires and firework displays over the weekend, and they will be a regular occurrence from now until New Year’s Eve with Diwali and other festivals taking place, but for those with pets or livestock, you will know that fireworks can be an extremely stressful time for animals.
Sadly, it only takes a quick search online about animals on bonfire night and you will be faced with several articles about animals that have died from stress or panic caused by overexposure to fireworks.
There are some really useful tips out there to help you calm your animals down during the fireworks so I thought I’d share a few links to check out and pick out a few of my favourite tips I’ve read.
For dogs, it has been recommended to take them on a long walk or play with them lots before the fireworks begin to tire them out, this way hopefully they will sleep through the majority of them and will be less stressed out as a result. Leaving on the TV or radio for background noise so that the loud bangs are masked slightly may help. But importantly, closing the curtains and making a safe, quiet space for your dogs will make them feel more relaxed.
Cats tend to be more independent, so making sure your cats have quiet hiding places where they will feel safe is important. Also make sure to bring in your cats in plenty of time before the fireworks start and shut all external doors and windows to reduce the risk of them escaping, as the loud bangs may cause them to try and flee, so keeping them safe at home is your best bet.
Small furry animals may also be affected by the fireworks, particularly if they are kept outside, so if possible bring them inside. Make sure they have plenty of bedding to bury in, covering part of their cages with a blanket or towel make a darker environment and helps to soundproof their cage partially.
There are lots more tips for household pets that you can check out here: https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/keep-pets-calm-fireworks-thunder-2171561 including Chromotherapy and Aromatherapy to calm them.
Horses and livestock are particularly vulnerable during fireworks displays as they are often kept inside. The BHS has a list of tips to help your horses stay calm, including playing music from a radio to mask the noise, this may be helpful with housed livestock as well. They recommend staying with your horse if you know when there will be fireworks going off. Also checking the stable or field they will be in to make sure that there are no nails, protruding objects or loose haynets that they could potentially injure themselves on.
If you are able to, speaking to your neighbours beforehand and asking them if they have plans to set off fireworks, and if so if they could direct them away from your fields or buildings could be helpful. Even checking the local papers, newsletters and radio stations can help you be more prepared for any fireworks displays that may be happening.
There is more information available here: https://www.bhs.org.uk/advice-and-information/riding-out/common-incidents/fireworks from the BHS although there are lots more sources available!
It goes without saying that if you are planning on having a bonfire, you should be mindful of others and do what you can to reduce the risk. Letting farmers know about fireworks displays or having a conversation about what could be done to reduce the trauma caused can be really helpful.
And if you’re having a bonfire, always check the leaves and woodpile for hedgehogs or other small animals that may be hibernating!