Your Pet’s Firework Survival Guide

It’s that time of the year that so many of our furry friends dread…fireworks season! Although seeing the sky lit up into in a myriad of different colours can be a joy to us, all the bright lights and cacophony of loud and unusual noises can turn even the bravest pet into a quivering jelly!
So, to help you, Park Veterinary Group has compiled its firework night survival guide to help get your pet ready for the big night – or nights!:
Be prepared
• Sound therapy: This can be used to help pets overcome their firework phobia, by slowly getting them accustomed to the sounds. You can download a free copy of the ‘sounds scary’ audio programme and booklet at the Dogs Trust website https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets. This can also be used to help prepare cats by getting them used to firework sounds.
However, this is not an overnight fix and can take around 8 weeks or more to complete (depending on your pet). So, although it may be too late for this year, it’s worth knowing so that you can be ready for next year.
• Stay inside: It’s important to keep all feline friends indoors overnight on fireworks night. If you have a cat that is not used to staying inside, it’s a good idea to rehearse this in advance. Practise getting your cat to come indoors when called by rewarding them with a tasty treat.
Make sure your home is firework-friendly
• Hidey holes and dens: Many pets when scared will want to hide away somewhere they feel safe, whether this is under the table, behind the sofa or under your legs! This is fine and something to be encouraged, if this makes your pet feel safe and secure.
You can help by making your pet a den. Try pulling out the sofa and popping a towel or blanket down for them to snuggle into. Alternatively, draping a blanket over your table can transform it into the ultimate hidey-hole. For our feline friends, a cardboard box on its side with a bed inside and a towel over the top or a hooded bed can make the purrrfect den.
• Calming remedies: You can also use special plugs-ins for your home, and collars and natural remedies can help your pet feel relaxed and calm. However, beware, as some of these may need to be started several weeks in advance to be effective. To find out more, pop in and speak to us at our Park Veterinary Group surgery in Scraptoft. We will help you to choose the best remedy to meet your pet’s needs.
On the big night!
Here is a quick checklist of what to do:
•Make sure any feline and canine friends are safely tucked up inside and all windows and cat flaps are locked tight.
• For our pooches, feeding them some extra carbs like pasta or potato with their evening meal can also help to make them feel more sleepy and relaxed.
• Your home should already be set up ready to go, with any plugs-ins and makeshift dens in place.
• Close all the curtains and blinds in your home well in advance of the fireworks starting.
• Make sure you take your canine friend out for their evening walk or to toilet nice and early so that there’s no chance of any firework surprises when out and about.
• Once all furry friends are safely tucked up inside, turn the TV or radio on, this will help to disguise any fireworks sounds.
• Remember, your pet will be looking to you for cues on how scared they should be! So, avoid fussing them and comforting them, as this will just reinforce that there is something wrong. Instead, carry on, as usual, keeping yourself calm and relaxed. The same applies for feline friends, don’t try to hug them or carry them, as this can make them feel more stressed.
Also, don’t forget your long-eared friends…
This can be a scary time for rabbits too. If your rabbit lives outdoors, move their hutch into a garage or a shed. If this is not possible, use a loose, breathable blanket to cover the front of their hutch to help shield them from the noise and flashing lights. Giving them extra hay to burrow down and hide in is also a good idea. Remember, don’t bring an outdoor rabbit into your home unless they are used to it, as this could add to their stress!
For house rabbits, give them somewhere to hide by using a cardboard box on its side with a blanket on top. Turning on the radio and TV can help muffle any firework sounds (just not too loud, as this can be scary if they are not used to these sounds).
Remember, although Guy Fawkes night is officially on the 5th of November, many public and private displays will be taking place in the week leading up to and after this date – so start prepping early! We’re always happy to see you at Park Vet Group and can advise you specifically on your pet. Just call 0116 241 8326 to book an appointment. We’re at 151 Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 2FF just across from the Nuffield hospital, and we have ample parking.