Fireworks are a regular feature of Australian celebrations – many of us love seeing those colours flash across the sky when we bring in the New Year, or celebrate other milestones.
But while the fanfare of fireworks is fun for most humans, the bright lights and loud noises can cause fear and distress in many animals.
Dogs and horses are particularly vulnerable to stress and fear caused by fireworks.
Dogs have been known to jump through plate glass to escape loud noises, and escape under or over fences that would otherwise contain them.
Horses are also likely to try and bolt when startled by fireworks, sometimes injuring themselves in the process.
We all like to have a good time, but it’s important to make sure our pets are safe and as calm as possible when fireworks are involved.
Here’s a handy list of things to help you prepare for the night, so you and your pets can enjoy the evening:
- Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped, wearing an ID tag, and that the details are up-to- date on the microchip registry. If your pet does manage to escape from your home, it’s important that they are able to be returned to you.
- Take your dog for a nice long walk in the afternoon, and then feed them ahead of the fireworks. If they’re fed and tired, they’ll be more likely to settle down for the night.
- If you can, stay at home with your pet to help them remain calm and to monitor their behaviour. If you can’t stay with them, see if someone else can supervise them, or consider boarding them overnight so that they are monitored.
- Make sure your pet has access to a somewhere comfortable to hide, and close the blinds or curtains when fireworks are due to begin.
- Don’t tie your dog up, as a panicking dog may choke or injure themselves.
- Put the TV or music on to help mask the sound of fireworks outside.
- If you have a horse, have them stabled securely overnight, or even moved to a different location away from the fireworks if possible. Make sure there’s nothing sharp that could cause them injury if they panic.
It’s easy to get anxious about your pet’s reaction to fireworks, especially if you know they’ve responded negatively in the past. But if you’re anxious and fuss over your pet during fireworks, they might respond to this by becoming more anxious themselves.
Instead, reward them for good behaviour with treats or their favourite toys, and keep them close to you.
The key thing to remember is to be prepared, and you’ll be able to keep your pet calm and happy, and still have a great time.
- The RSPCA relies on donations from the public to protect and care for animals.