The Dreaded Fireworks!

Its nearly that time of year again for firework celebrations and whilst many of us love them, it can be a deeply worrying time for our horses and pets. Here are a few pointers to keep your animal’s safe during firework season.

Horses

Horses are flight animals and are naturally designed from run from danger. The instinct to run isn’t only a danger to themselves but also to their owners handling them and even the public, if they were break through fencing and into public areas or roadways. Stress brought on by fright can also lead to colic. Sadly, every year there are cases of horses having to be euthanised due to injury or sickness brought about by firework displays. However, there are things that owners can do to help to keep their horses the least stressed and as safe as possible.

  • Check your local area for publicised events and plan accordingly.
  • Ideally make sure horses are stabled and are brought in before dark. 
  • A radio near the stable can cover some of the noise of fireworks.
  • Ensure there is plenty of hay available to help keep horses occupied or a treat ball.
  • Keep horses with their social groups or if they are unable to see their friends, a stable mirror may be useful.
  • If you cannot stable your horse, ensure the paddock is free from hazards to help reduce the risk of accidents if the horses do spook and gallop.
  • Ensure there is a fire extinguisher close at hand in of case stray fireworks landing on the property.
  • If possible, monitor your horse through the evening and keep the vets number to hand in case of emergency.
  • After a firework display, check the stable yard and paddocks for debris from fireworks that may present a hazard.

Cats, Dogs and other pets

Firework night can be a hugely stressful time for our domestic pets. Veterinary centres see an increase in medication required during this season to help our pets cope through this anxious time. An animals hearing is much more advanced than our own and the sound of fireworks can cause them physical discomfort. The flashes of light and loud sounds can cause some pets to bolt, with many pets each year becoming lost.   

  • Cats should be kept indoors overnight and provided with a quiet place that they can hide to feel safe and secure.
  • Ensure cat flaps, windows and doors are closed to avoid escape.
  • Ensure your cat’s or dog’s microchip details are up to date and his or her collar carries your contact information, just in case they do escape or run from home. This will increase the chances of them being reunited with you.  
  • Walk dogs earlier in the day to avoid walking in darkness. If you are caught out in the dark, ensure your dog is kept on a lead to prevent him from bolting.
  • Draw curtains and put the TV or radio on to help block out some of the external noises.
  • Leaving your pet alone, even if they are pacing, meowing, whining is best. Let them hide and leave them in peace. Only reward calm behaviour, or cuddle and stroke them only if it helps them to relax. 
  • Avoid leaving your pet alone in the house when fireworks are going off. Your presence, even if you don’t interact with them, helps to reassure them.
  • If your pet is known to become very stressed by fireworks, ask your vet about medication or hormone sprays/plug-ins to help minimise their anxiety.
  • Small pets such as rabbit, ferrets and hamsters etc. should be checked that all doors are bolted and shut tight and if possible brought indoors.
  • If the enclosure cannot be moved inside, a cover to shut out the light and deaden the sound can help to reduce stress or turning the hutch around to face a wall can help to reduce the flashes of light. Carpet is a good option but ensure there is enough ventilation.
  • Place extra bedding material in the housing so they can bury into it and feel secure.