Protecting Your Pets From Fireworks
Happy New Year!!!!
While I'm always glad to celebrate a new year (heck, I'd celebrate two or three a year given the chance) the one thing I HATE is a fireworks display. I'm not even too keen on a professional display. They're dangerous and loud. And if they bother me, what do they do to our furfriends who don't know what's going on?
Dogs and other animals around the world are terrorized by fireworks. Here's an excellent article from the Trinidad and Tobago Express about the damage these expensive noisemakers cause our furfriends.
What to do to protect your dogs
Thursday, August 30th 2007
Firework displays and celebrations bring confusion, anxiety and fear into the lives of animals, causing many to run away from their homes in an effort to escape the frightening detonations.
Fireworks are not animal-friendly. Invariably when communities celebrate with fireworks, the local animal shelter (TTSPCA) and other animal aid organisations are overwhelmed by the "fallout", which manifests in an increased number of stray animals and reports of injuries and trauma to those animals. Dogs are brought to the shelter with paws bloody from running or torn skin from tearing through a backyard fence, or worse, crippled from being hit by a car. Animals who are re-united with their families are indeed fortunate.
Firework explosions can produce blind panic in animals that can lead to serious injury, deep-rooted debilitating fears or even death. The ears of most animals are considerably more sensitive than the human ear. Therefore the explosion of a firework which can emit sounds of up to 190 decibels - a full 110-115 decibels higher than the 75-80 decibel range, where damage to the human ear begins, not only is proportionately more disturbing to an animal, it can also affect an animal's acute sense of hearing. Fireworks generate a noise level higher than the noise from gunshots - 180 decibels - and low-level flying jets - 100 decibels. Irreversible ear damage such as tinnitus and loss of hearing in humans starts at the 80-decibel range.
Fireworks produce light, noise and air pollution. The explosion of fireworks also releases poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, contaminating our natural environment. And these chemicals are also hazardous to companion animals and wildlife living in the area where they are detonated. And we cannot forget humans with asthma and other health problems.
The need to protect both companion animals and non-domesticated animals from fireworks harm is exemplified in the numerous stories of animals suffering that we are left with after the smoke has cleared.
For example dogs have responded to firework explosions by breaking through glass windows, often running for miles away from their homes only to end up exhausted, bloody and confused or dead on the road. For animals, fireworks are no cause for celebration.
However, fireworks remain a holiday fixture in most communities around the world despite the increased acceptance of alternatives such as laser light shows or lower-noise fireworks which are registered as category two under the British Standards Institution mark. Fireworks can create joy and excitement, but restrictions must be put into place.
If you have a Neighbourhood/ Residential Committee consider the following:
- Consider alternatives to massive firework displays such as laser light shows. More flash and less bang, please.
- The use of the loudest pyrotechnics should be banned
- Displays of percussive fireworks should never be allowed in residential areas.
- Displays should be limited to specific areas and be kept short.
- Advance warning notices should be posted so that people with dogs and cats can take the necessary precautions.
In this age of technology surely we can create celebratory displays that are thrilling and joyful without endangering our ears, our dogs, cats and wildlife. There is an evident need to protect both companion animals and wild animals from fireworks harm and this need is growing with each passing year.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE AND DURING FIREWORKS DISPLAY
1. If you are unable to stay at home with your animal during fireworks, it would be wise to bring the animal indoors (if possible). Try to make them feel safe and comfortable in a secure room of the house and leave a radio on and some of their favourite things, or some old clothes with your scent on them.
2. Make sure you leave lots of water. Also, take your dog out for plenty of active exercise an hour before the fireworks start then home for a good filling meal. A tired and well fed dog will be far less anxious during the night.
3. If you cannot bring your pets inside, the TTSPCA advises that you house your dog in the garage and to block off any view of the fireworks. Ensure that your premises are secure. Dogs are known to bang on shaky gates to escape, or push through holes in the fence. Be creative in finding solutions to such problems.
4. Dogs who panic can choke themselves on a collar or lead, so never use a choker chain or slip collar to restrain your dog.
5. Do not leave your pet chained next to a wall as your pet may try to leap the wall to escape and hang itself.
6. Do not soothe and comfort a scared dog, it will only increase the problem. Instead be cheerful and in control. Encouraging calm behaviour with praise and attention.
7. Make sure that your dog is well identified in case of escape. A simple tag with owner's name and telephone number will ensure that your pet gets back to you if it ends up at the Shelter.
8. Feline owners should also keep their cats indoors.
9. Rabbits and other caged animals should be safely secured in a garage or outbuilding away from sight and sound of fireworks.
10. As an alternative, the cage can be covered with thick fabric to muffle the sound, making sure there is sufficient ventilation.
11. Always call the TTSPCA (622-1367 or 628-1615) if your dog becomes lost during the fireworks as chances are they may have your animal but are unable to contact
you if the animal does not have identification.
12. Desensitisation may stop pets being afraid of fireworks. However this process takes time to accomplish. This works by regularly exposing animals to the kinds of sounds that frighten them. Start very quietly. Play a tape recording or sound effects CD just loud enough that you notice some irritation, ear-twitching for example. Attract your dog's attention.
Act as if everything is normal and reward calm behaviour with praise and attention. Keep this up for around 20 minutes at a time and try to leave the sounds on for a few minutes after you leave the room. Repeat the process on a daily basis gradually increasing the volume over the course of a few months. You will need to allow three to six months in advance to complete this kind of training, and some dogs will need to continue it indefinitely or they will become sensitive again in between firework displays.
13. Talk to your VET about the possibilities of administering a SEDATIVE to your pet if he/ she has the tendency to be easily "spooked". IMPORTANT: Sedatives are prescribed according to the weight of the animal so it is vital that the animal is weighed by at qualified veterinarian to avoid overdosing or under-dosing.
Do not administer sedatives to animals that are not prescribed by your vet as this may cause severe reactions. Call the TTSPCA and ask for advice from our in -house VET at the Clinic.