While most humans enjoy the fireworks festivities, many pets unfortunately become highly distressed by fireworks, says SPCA (Acting) Chief Executive Andrea Midgen. The SPCA receives dozens of calls at this time of year relating to fireworks issues including; animal injuries, frightened animals, missing pets and occasionally, abuse of animals.
“The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be very frightening to animals and many animals become highly stressed by them,” Midgen says. “This can sadly lead to animals running away and going missing, injuring themselves or becoming susceptible to traffic accidents. We urge pet owners to keep their pets inside and safe on Guy Fawkes Night.”
Planning ahead for Guy Fawkes is key, Midgen says. “Be aware of Guy Fawkes Night and create a strategy for your animals. Making sure your pet has company, is kept inside and has proper identification are just a few easy ways that you can ensure the safety and happiness of your pet.”
While the SPCA does not support the private sale and use of fireworks and has long called for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, those planning to set off fireworks in their homes should consider speaking to their neighbours, or leaving a note in their letterbox, so that those with pets can prepare accordingly.
“We ask people without pets to be aware of the stress their use of fireworks can cause others in their neighbourhood and act considerately,” Midgen says. She also encouraged people to attend controlled public fireworks displays rather than using fireworks at home.
Unfortunately the public sale of fireworks ensures that there is no 'set' day for fireworks to be used and therefore pet owners must remain vigilant at all times.
SPCA’s Top Tips for Animals and Guy Fawkes:
• Never let fireworks off close to animals.
• Think about staying home to reassure and comfort your pets; they will be much less stressed with someone they trust close by. Alternatively, find a reliable person who will stay with your pets and look after them.
• Exterior doors and windows should be secured to prevent your pets escaping and running away. Interior doors and curtains/blinds should be closed as this will help muffle the sound of fireworks and prevent your pets being startled by the lights.
• It is a good idea to switch on the radio, television or stereo to distract your pets from the sound of fireworks.
• Take special care of an elderly or nervous animal - speak to your veterinarian before Guy Fawkes about whether calming medication would be suitable.
• Make sure your pet is either microchipped, or has a collar on with up to date contact details in case they are panicked by the fireworks and escape. This will help rescuers reunite you.
• If you have small pets that live outdoors, don’t forget to partly cover cages/pens and aviaries with blankets for sound proofing.
• Move horses and farm animals away from fireworks and make sure all fences are secure. Stable horses where possible.