Keep calm… and help our companion animals during firework festivals

It’s not just cats and dogs that can suffer, warn animal medicines advisors

Companion animal and horse owners are being advised to take sensible precautions as we head towards Bonfire Night, and other upcoming festive firework celebrations.

“Bonfire Night is obviously a focus,” explains animal medicines advisor Sharon Groves, owner of Isle of Wight pet store Pets with Hart, “But from now until the end of the year, we can expect regular firework festivities marking different cultural celebrations.”

Sharon, an award winning SQP (Suitably Qualified Person) with the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA), is used to giving advice to cat and dog owners at this time of year, but she urges other animal owners to act too.

“It is not just cats and dogs that can suffer during firework displays and loud bangs. Rabbits, guinea pigs and even horses can get panicked, but there are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce or manage this distress,” explains Sharon.

Tried and tested actions include creating dens or hideaways for both cats and dogs in quieter, more protected parts of the house. Get them in and feed them earlier, before most displays will commence. Having the television on louder can also help.

“Most guinea pigs and rabbits will normally live outside, so consider bringing them indoors, in a shed, garage or even into the house,” says Sharon.

She adds, “Horses, particularly those with a ‘panicky’ nature, can get distressed easily. Try and spend as much time with them in the stable as possible. It can be a good idea to a leave a radio on overnight to help mask other noises.”

There are also herbal and synthetic pheromone calming remedies available in plug-in, spray and wipe formats, and these can be very effective in helping calm animals during stressful periods. There is even an option available, like a plug-in diffuser, but running off batteries, that is ideal for livery yards or stables.

“Think ahead, and keep your animal as comfortable as possible,” adds Sharon. “Try and keep the usual routine, but move timings earlier, and make subtle changes with the use of radio, television and other calming remedies.”

Stephen Dawson, general secretary of AMTRA explains, “AMTRA SQPs are your animal medicines advisors. If you are concerned, speak to your SQP. They will be able to provide qualified advice, helping reduce stress and calm animals during these festivities.”