The fireworks season now goes way beyond the traditional 5th November - with Halloween parties, Diwali and other celebrations lighting up the skies until after the New Year.
Many animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs and whistles may cause actual pain in their ears. In 2005, the RSPCA found that 49% of dogs showed some degree of fear of fireworks and similar loud bangs, for example.
Ensuring your pet doesn’t become distressed or worried throughout this period is a big responsibility for a pet owner. This usually means keeping them indoors and away from loud firework noises. Even if your dog is usually enthusiastic about socialising in the park, it may feel threatened if it hears loud bangs and act out of character through fear.
Animals that are usually kept outdoors should be housed indoors in a suitable quiet environment, and horses, which can quickly become uneasy, should be properly stabled. Even independent pets such as cats should be brought in to avoid danger and stress.
If you’re having a celebration at home and are in charge of lighting a bonfire, always have a good look through what you’re about to burn as small animals like to explore and shelter in large piles of wood and other burnable materials. In order to avoid this altogether, consider stacking the wood and materials on the night.
Inside the house, consider putting on some calm music or the television at a sensible volume. This creates a relaxing atmosphere. Animals, especially dogs, have a strong sense of how people are feeling, so you must remain calm yourself. If you cuddle your dog or make an extra fuss of them, they may get the impression that they are right to be scared, making them more distressed. If your dog or cat tries to run away and hide in the house at the sound of fireworks, let them – and make sure they have got somewhere to hide. Holding onto the animal will most likely make it more distressed.
If you are worried, then talk to your vet or pet care specialist – it’s good to talk to them in advance of the fireworks season. They will be able to advise further on coping and behavioural strategies and recommend therapies which can help.