Helping your dog feel safe this fireworks season

It is that time of year again, the time that has many pets, and their owners, in great distress. Yes, I am talking Fireworks.

I do understand that for many people fireworks are great fun but for many pet owners, the apprehension that comes at this time of year is awful.

Every year we see reports where dogs have been so scared by an expected bang or bright light, that they run in panic and this can be straight into the path of a moving car.  The result of this could be emergency veterinary treatment for the dog and a traumatic experience for the owner and the driver of the vehicle.

Obviously loud bangs and bright lights affect animals in different ways, much the same as humans. My friend has a rottweiler who loves to sit and watch the fireworks with his family. By contrast, one of my dogs is absolutely terrified of them and shakes.  

So what can you actually do to help your dog through the emotional rollercoaster of fireworks season?

Organised displays

Organised displays are great as they are often well publicised and people can prepare for them. The downside is that they tend to be really loud and very bright with a lot of people attending.

Whilst the Covid pandemic has meant that many of the organised displays have been cancelled, there are a number of venues who have arranged for drive in fireworks displays to be held.

It is important to check your local area and see what displays are still going ahead.

Domestic displays

Retailers have reported that sales of fireworks has soared this year – in some areas by up to 45% increase – as the lack of organised displays means that households are looking at putting on a small display in their garden.

Here communication is key. Use the power of Facebook to ask the community if they are putting on displays so you can gauge a time to feed and walk your dog. Speak to you neighbours and ask if they have any plans.

Do bear in mind that the debris from fireworks can travel a fair distance and end up in your neighbours garden and cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs so do think about what you are sending up into the air and give people enough warning so they can check their gardens before letting out their animals.  

Random fireworks

Despite tighter controls coming in, and even Sainsburys making the bold decision to not sell fireworks at all, we still see a lot of random let-offs in public areas – including a recent incident in a public park where a father let off fireworks with his 4 young children.

This is the hardest area for you to predict and so the advice here is to keep your wits about you. Listen and be prepared.

Simple steps you can take to help keep your pooch happy this fireworks night.

  1. Make sure your home and garden are secure. Shut the doors and windows and make sure any holes in the fence are blocked up.
  2. Get your walks in early. There is far less chance of encountering fireworks during the daylight hours so, where possible, get your main walk in earlier in the day.
  3. Diffuse the effects of fireworks by having a TV or radio on to help mask the noise and keep the lights on.
  4. Give your dog a safe place. For some dogs this could be as simple as being able to curl up on your feet where others may benefit from a den they can hide in. You know your dog best – if you are unsure then give them some options. Take a look at the link below for a great video from Dogs Trust on how to build a den using what you have around the home.

Wishing you all a safe and happy fireworks season.

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