While many of us love to look up at the sky and admire the splashing of colour as fireworks ‘pop’ ‘bang’ and ‘whizz’ across the sky, for many of our furry companions it’s an extremely stressful time.
While early preparation and desensitisation is always preferable, it’s not always possible. If you have a pet that’s worried by fireworks and you’re worried during this time, take a look at our tips below to see what you can do to minimise their discomfort.
Keep them indoors.
When fireworks are going off, it’s best to keep your pets indoors - even if they don’t seem that concerned. Not only can fireworks cause sudden bangs that spook your pets but any debris could cause injury.
Shut the catflap and keep your cats cosy indoors and try to get your dog to settle down before fireworks are due to be let off. Walk your dog earlier than usual and have them tucked up in bed before the displays begin.
It can be hard to predict when fireworks will start, particularly with so many people having back garden displays. We recommend working with the daylight available and settling down when the darkness draws in. It may also be worth asking your neighbours or local community pages for people to let others know their plans so that you can have a better idea of timings.
Distractions are essential.
Close the curtains to block out those flashing lights from outside and turn the television or radio on to help muffle out the sound. Don’t play anything too loudly, as dogs have sensitive ears, but putting something calming on to muffle out the sound can be incredibly effective. Particularly if your dog is used to noises from the TV. This routine of settling in and watching something can be quite comforting and allow them to see that there is nothing to be concerned about.
Classic FM have even got a special show dedicated specifically to helping pets keep calm during the fireworks. Charlotte Hawkins presents Classic FM’s Pet Classics. Tune into these two special programmes from 5pm to 9pm on Friday 4 November and Saturday 5 November, when firework season is in its peak, for the most calming music.
Charlotte has an evening of specially curated soothing music to help calm the nerves of our favourite furry (or scaly) companions, and ease their stress during fireworks season.
Understanding what stress looks like.
Recognising the key signs of stress is incredibly important. The signs aren’t always obvious unless you know what to look for and not all dogs will show their anxiety in a ‘loud’ way through barking.
Some of the quieter signs of stress in dogs include:
Tucking their tail
In cats, this anxiety may appear in the form of…
There are so many other signs and you will know your own pets better than anybody. Anything that is out of character may well be an indicator of their discomfort.
So, how can you help?
Let the animal have space to walk around the house and find a suitable corner to hide in. Trying to hold them can make matters worse, as they’ll often feel trapped. Allowing them to find a quiet spot and leaving them undisturbed is important.
Many animals will want to find a ‘den’ to hide in while they’re worried. This might be tucked up under the duvet, or perhaps in a small space such as behind the sofa. Providing access to these spaces is important.
Don’t let your dog sense your own concerns. They are so attuned to our behaviour and emotions, it can be very easy for your own nerves about keeping your dog calm to be picked up on by them. You don’t want to give them any reason to think there’s a cause for concern. The calmer you are, the calmer they will likely be.
The best thing to do is to stay calm, act normal and praise calm behaviour. It’s okay to stroke your pet and give them a fuss if they approach you for it, but leave them alone if they’ve gone elsewhere. A worried pet could easily snap if provoked and pestering them for a fuss will likely lead to this sort of behaviour.
Please don’t shout.
If your pet has been destructive, is barking or generally acting worried in a loud and undesirable manner, then shouting at them will only make the situation worse. They are communicating their fear in the only way they know how and getting angry will only escalate the situation. The best thing to do is address your pet calmly.
Stay with your pets
If you possibly can, please stay with your pets throughout this time. Although they may choose to hide out in a dark corner, they will certainly gain some comfort from knowing that you are there with them. If you must go out because of work or other commitments, please consider having somebody that your pet knows and trusts staying with them.
We hope you all enjoy the festivities and are able to make the experience as stress-free as possible for yourselves and your trusted companions.
Helping Holbrook Animal Rescue
If you’re familiar with Holbrook, you may already know that we are proud to be one of only two ‘kennel-free’ animal rescues here in the UK. Our founders, Laura and Cliff Santini, alongside a group of fantastic volunteers, have worked hard to establish Holbrook as a safe and loving rescue centre for animals to thrive while looking for a new home.
We are currently facing the loss of our land due to development. We have called this place home for over 25 years and have helped countless animals to find their perfect homes. Unfortunately, due to the various circumstances, including the fact we currently rent this land, we are finding ourselves forced to locate without sufficient funds to do so.
In order for us to continue our essential rehoming work, we are calling upon the community in and around Horsham to help us to raise the funds to help build a new rescue centre.
Find out more about our future here.