While they can be exciting and pretty, fireworks are terrifying for our pets. Just in time for Canada Day, Toronto Humane Society has prepared some guidelines to help keep your furry family members safe while reducing their fear and stress.
“Sadly, it is impossible to explain to your pets that the loud noises and bright flashes fireworks cause are nothing to fear. To them, it can feel like the end of the world. This feeling can last much longer than the display itself, and if they have a particularly bad reaction that means that they are likely to have an even worse reaction next time. Fortunately, with a little preparation (and a lot of love and treats), we can help reduce the fear, anxiety, and stress they are likely to experience during firework shows,” explains Jacklyn Ellis, MRes, PhD, CAAB, CSB-C who is the Director of Behaviour at Toronto Humane Society.
Move their cages to a quieter area of the house, like the basement. For those who tend to burrow (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, and mice), you can provide them with extra bedding and materials to escape the noise. For birds, you can cover their birdcage with a blanket or towel to block out some of the noise and sudden flashes of light.
Keep them inside when fireworks are going off. Dogs and cats tend to run away or hide when they’re scared, so close any open windows and make sure there are no easy escape routes. You should also double, even triple check, to make sure your pet has their collar on with all their updated information. You could even consider having your pet microchipped, so that you are prepared if your pet were to escape. If your pet already has a microchip, it is important to ensure that the microchipping company has your up-to-date contact information.
Take your dog for a walk before it gets dark so that they won’t need to use the bathroom during the firework show.
It’s also important to give your pet a safe space. Create a fort, or hideaway, complete with snacks, a bed, and a cozy blanket to make them feel safe. This is a great chance for you to snuggle up with your pet and let them know you are by their side.
If your pet begins to look stressed because of the loud noise (restlessness, pacing, quivering, and looking for places to hide are some of the signs), you’ll naturally want to comfort them and tell them everything will be alright. This will help support them through their anxiety as they naturally look to you for cues. A lot of love and treats can help them through the situation.
By being calm and relaxed, your pet will see there’s nothing to be worried about.
If you have plans to go out for fireworks, it’s important that you keep your pet at home. No matter how fun-loving and social they are, they will not appreciate being outside with all that noise. Also, try to make sure there’s someone at home to keep your pet(s) company while the fireworks are going off. You can help mask the noise of the fireworks by putting your TV or radio on.
For animals known to have intense reactions to fireworks you can talk to your vet about getting some anti-anxiety meds to help them cope.
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