Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice

Dog and Fireworks

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Each year around bonfire night thousands of pets are terrified, hundreds injured or maimed and many killed by our childish indulgence in amature pyrotechnics. Some incidents are due to ignorance, some to supidity and sadly some just malicious. It is not a good reflection on a nation of animal lovers that each year we submit our pets and companions to (what is now) several weeks of fear and misery - just for entertainment.

So Please;

Do not hold "home" fireworks displays, it is an expensive waste of money without the quality, quantity atmosphere and organisation of a properly arranged and orchestrated display.

If you are responsible for organising a public display do make sure that you publish the start and end times in your local paper and individually notify local residents of the start and end times - then stick firmly to those times. If you do that pet owners can ensure that their pets are exercised and allowed out before the display begins and then kept safely at home with caring company whilst it takes place. Remember it is not only dogs and cats that are frightened and injured as a result of firework displays but also horses, ponies, cattle, sheep and poultry.

If you are a dog owner;

  • Make sure you check as far a possible when local displays will take place. Look in your local papers and check with neighbours if they know of any likely displays.
  • For a couple of weeks before and after November the 5th make sure that you exercise your dogs early, before fireworks are likely to be released and make sure cats are in before dusk.
  • During this period keep your dogs on the lead (unfair but necessary) whilst being walked in case they are startled by the irresponsible release of fireworks and run away terrorised.
  • Check that your dogs have identity tags on their collars showing your name and telephone number so that if they are frightened and run away they stand a chance of being returned to you.
  • Arrange to be at home each evening and night with your dogs around this time so that they have company and care if a neighbour indulges themselves in an unannouced, antisocial firework display.
  • Try to keep everything as normal for your pets, don't make a big fuss of the bangs and blasts associated with firework displays, try to ignore them and don't draw attention to them.
  • Draw curtains, shut doors and windows, turn up the radio or television and try as far as possible to blank out the noise, move you and your dog to a room away from the fireworks if you can.
  • If your pet is upset by the noise of fireworks don't fuss them, it only draws attention to and reinforces their fear by providing a reward (your fussing), try to keep everything as normal as possible.
  • Distract your pet by doing something they enjoy or are proud of, play "hunt the toy" in the house, do some retrieving, give them a large meaty bone - anything to divert their attention from the fireworks.
  • If your pet is very upset by fireworks consult your vet beforehand, in severe cases your vet may prescribe a mild sedative, in addition you could try homeopathic aids.
  • In the countryside people tend to be more aware and animal conscious, so if you have dogs who are very distressed by fireworks consider asking the help a friend or relative in a more rural location, where fireworks are less likely to be used in an irresponsible and antisocial manner, to take care of them for a couple of weeks.
  • You can try to reduce your dogs' noise sensitivity by playing tapes or CDs of unatural noises, these are availble from specialist pet shops or from the BBC. Start by replaying the noises quietly and over a period of days or weeks increase the volume so that your dogs learn to ignore them.

Your can recognise stress in your pet by some or all of the following symptoms;

  • Salivating and drooling,
  • Trembling and shaking,
  • Scratching to get into the house or out of a room,
  • Scrabbling into corners,
  • Whining, barking or howling,
  • Hiding under furniture,
  • Whimpering and excessive or abnormal attention seeking,
  • Loss of bodily functions - bladder and/or bowel
  • Refusal to eat


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