How to keep dogs safe around fireworks
From Halloween to Bonfire Night and Christmas to New Year, our fondness for fireworks does anxious animals no favours.
While it’s impossible to totally shield our pups from noisy fireworks displays, we can take measures to keep them safe and reduce anxiety.
Frightened pooches are unpredictable, so risks such as accidental injury or running away and getting lost can never be ruled out – this is why quality pet cover is so important.
Go Get It is here to help. We help you compare pet insurance so you can find reliable cover tailored to your pet’s needs and budget.
We know how important your lovable pup is to you, which is why we’ve also come up with some top tips on keeping your pooch safe around fireworks.
Take a look!
How to keep dogs safe around fireworks
Why are dogs are so scared of fireworks? Because they don’t understand where the loud sounds are coming from, or why they’re occurring.
Canines have incredibly sensitive hearing, so understandably, the whirrs and shrieks emitted during fireworks displays can be absolutely terrifying for our favourite furballs.
It goes without saying that if you own a canine, avoid having your own fireworks display at all costs. It causes your pet unnecessary stress – the sounds will be ever closer and more frightening when they’re coming from your own backyard.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s safety during fireworks displays, don’t simply focus on muffling frightening sounds.
Have a long-term strategy and focus on combating your pooch’s fireworks phobia, reducing the chance of another anxious episode when the next round of explosions occurs.
If you live in the countryside, for example, loud sounds such as gunfire can be a common occurrence, so it’s important to desensitise your pooch to sudden, loud noises as best you can, fireworks aside.
Let’s take a look at some preventative strategies:
Sounds Scary therapy
Treating your canine for a fireworks phobia isn’t an impossible feat.
This is thanks to Sounds Scary, a free therapy pack offered by Dogs Trust, in partnership with vets Jon Bowen and Sarah Heath, both of whom specialise in pet behavioural therapy.
Sounds Scary is a sound-centric counterconditioning treatment, which works by gradually exposing your pup to a variety of new, potentially frightening noises, such as loud engines, thunder, gunfire, whistles and exploding fireworks – all from within the confines of a safe environment, home.
- It’s recommended that owners pick a room where their pooch often enjoys relaxing naps and fun games.
- Ensure you leave the door ajar, so your canine can leave with ease if the sounds become too much to handle.
- Ideally start treatment when puppies are three to 16 weeks, as this is a vital time during which canines are still learning about their surroundings. They’re likely better equipped to handle sudden, seemingly inexplicable noises and acclimatise to them at a faster rate.
The programme is backed up by scientific research, and comes with helpful instructions. When implemented correctly, the treatment can be highly effective.
The length of treatment will vary from dog to dog. However, a study showed that after eight weeks, over 90% of canines displayed a notable improvement.
For maximum impact, continue playing the sounds frequently, even after the course of treatment is complete, particularly in and around firework season.
Of course, some dogs may have a more severe phobia – for example, a rescue pup may possess a more nervous disposition, due to past traumas.
In these cases, it’s best to enlist specialist help, consulting your vet for guidance. Make sure your dog is protected with reliable cover, too – compare pet insurance with us today.
Create a den
A good way to deepen your understanding of doggy dilemmas is to put yourself in your pup’s position.
If you didn’t understand the reasoning behind a sudden spate of terrifying sounds, it’s likely you’d want to take shelter somewhere safe and secure, until the noise ceased.
Work out in advance where your pooch’s den should be. Consider where your furry friend tends to retreat when they’re anxious or scared, as this is likely the place that they feel safest in.
An ideal room for your pup’s den is one situated in the middle of the house, as this is probably the most sound-proofed location on offer.
Rooms with large windows or skylights are not a good fit, as the sounds and lights will travel through more readily, frightening your pup.
Make sure your dog has a cosy bed to snuggle in, adding familiar blankets and toys for extra comfort.
You could consider purchasing an igloo bed for your pup’s den, as these give anxious mutts extra coverage, offering dark, cave-like sanctuary in times of distress.
3 extra tricks
- Purchase an Adaptil diffuser well in advance of fireworks, installing it 14 days beforehand, if possible. The plugin works by releasing a synthetic imitation of a calming canine hormone. Keep the diffuser running at all times, positioning it near to your pup’s bed, in the den.
- Hide tasty chews and treats in the den on a regular basis, and get your pooch into the habit of retreating there from time to time, forming positive associations with the hideout so he/she naturally gravitates towards it.
- Make a playlist of rhythmic, relaxing music your canine seems to like, playing it now and then so it becomes familiar, in advance of fireworks displays.
What to do on the night
If you’re lucky enough to have advance warning of a fireworks display, you can start preparations a little while before the first rockets are launched.
Walk your mongrel during daylight hours, lessening the chance of being caught out in the open when the explosions start.
Consider giving your dog a sizeable, carb-heavy meal during late afternoon, as this will help induce a calm state of drowsiness before night comes.
You could even play fun, food-orientated games before the fireworks commence, as this may put your pup in a happier frame of mind.
Whether or not you have forewarning of exploding fireworks, always focus on safety first, ensuring all windows and doors are closed, blocking off potentially dangerous points higher up in the house.
Terrified canines have been known to suddenly bolt or act erratically, so keeping them securely locked indoors is a vital safeguarding measure.
Use Go Get It to compare pet insurance and secure quality cover in advance. In addition to this, check your doggy is microchipped and his/her records are up to date.
Make sure an ID tag displaying your current number and address is attached to your pup’s collar, as well. Should your dog run off, you will be easier to track down.
Finally, never leave your dog tied up outdoors during a firework display, or alone in your vehicle.
Firework safety action plan
- The moment the fireworks begin, direct your pup towards the designated den, prompting him/her to stay there with a distracting treat, such as a stuffed Kong.
- Lead by example, remaining calm, unperturbed and upbeat during the firework display.
- Pop on your relaxing playlist or the television, ensuring it’s not too noisy.
- Draw the curtains, as these will provide an extra layer of sound insulation and darken the room, shielding your pup from flashing lights.
- Make sure your pooch has an adequate supply of fresh water outside their den – canines tend to drink more when they’re frightened, so make sure the bowl is kept full.
- As tempting as it is, resist the urge to comfort your beloved ball of fur. It’s ok to pet your mutt if it helps, but if he/she prefers to hide in peace, allow this, praising a calm demeanour.
- Never shout at your canine or become angry – they won’t understand and will likely become more agitated in response.
Signs of anxiety in dogs around fireworks
Dogs, like people, go through various mental and physical states, at times triggered by internal or external stressors.
Learning to understand the meaning of canine body language and behaviour is an invaluable step all dog owners should take. It’s a wonderful way of deepening your bond with your dog, and enables you to better understand and help them in times of distress.
According to Blue Cross, the following behaviours may be exhibited by anxious pups:
- Excessive drooling, yawning and panting
- Placing their tail between their legs
- Shaking and hiding
- Pacing around in circles
Toxicity of fireworks to dogs
The ingestion of unused fireworks can be incredibly damaging to your pup’s health.
Fireworks may contain: harmful chemicals like potassium nitrate; sulphur; charcoal; toxic explosive and colouring agents.
Many fireworks include chlorates. This means that, when ingested, fireworks can cause red blood cells to oxidise, turning blood brown.
The browning is caused by the iron transforming to rust in the blood’s haemoglobin, which, eventually, could cause total kidney failure.
Likewise, many fireworks contain heavy metals such as colouring agents and charcoal, both of which can be hazardous to dogs.
They might include arsenic, cadmium or barium – none of which are good news for four-legged friends.
If you pup ingests fireworks, Spruce Pets suggests he/she may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Sore stomach
- Bloody vomiting
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Difficulty breathing
If you’re concerned your dog’s eaten unused fireworks, immediately consult a vet and seek treatment.
The level of risk is determined by the amount and type of fireworks your dog ingests, but any one of these substances can cause your pooch severe health issues.
If ingestion is caught within two hours of its occurrence, some vets may suggest treatment with hydrogen peroxide, as this will trigger vomiting.
In more serious scenarios, your furry pal may require hospitalisation.
Treating your pooch for serious illness or injury doesn’t come cheap, so compare pet insurance with us and make sure you’re protected from high vet bills.
What should I do if my dog gets burnt?
In the unfortunate event your precious pup gets burnt by a stray firework, you’ll need to act fast.
Start by determining whether your pooch has suffered first, second or third-degree burns, as this will dictate your next move.
First-degree burns: your pup will clearly be in pain, but their skin will remain intact.
Second and third-degree burns: your pup’s skin will be partially or totally seared through – these are much more serious burns. Dogs suffering from this level of injury may exhibit symptoms of shock, as well.
PetMD recommends taking the following steps:
Ensure your dog is restrained, cooling the damaged area as rapidly as you can – this will help minimise damage. Use the shower head or bath tap to apply a continuous stream of cooling water to the burn.
After the burn is cooled and washed out with water, place a cold compress on the wound for 20 minutes – you could use a sack of frozen peas or an ice pack. After this, apply a bandage, ensuring it’s non-stick.
Consult your vet for further treatment guidance – they’ll likely be happy to help over the phone, although you’ll need to keep a close eye on your pooch, in case their condition deteriorates.
Second and third-degree burns
Place a dressing on the wound, ensuring it’s clean and dry, avoiding textiles with loose threads, such as cotton – these could become stuck inside the wound and further complicate matters.
Tie strips of clean sheets around the dressing and transport your pup to the vet straightaway. This is vital, as the vet will know how to stop your canine from going into shock.
Taking care of your dog
You can take all the precautions in the world, but it’s impossible to protect your favourite furball from every potential risk – for example, a neighbour may not properly dispose of fireworks, exposing your pup to possible injuries or illness.
Go Get It knows what a minefield sourcing reliable pet cover can be, which is why we help you compare pet insurance. We’re passionate about protecting pets – your pooch will be in safe hands with us.
Don’t wait, get a quote today.