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15 Jul 2022
Ahead of fireworks season, vets issue top tips to prevent possible injury and distress to animals.
As fireworks season approaches, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging pet owners and animal keepers to start preparing now to prevent possible injury and distress to their pets and livestock in the run up to Bonfire Night (5 November), Diwali (12 November) and New Year’s Eve (31 December).
Each year, vets across the UK treat animals with firework-related injuries. By far the most commonly reported cases are self injuries caused by fireworks-related anxiety, such as tooth injuries to dogs from chewing furniture or fractures in horses that had bolted from their fields. The debris and remnants of fireworks and paper lanterns in fields and surrounding countryside can also pose a serious risk of injury to livestock, wildlife and zoo animals.
Signs of fireworks-related distress can vary from animal to animal. While some pets show obvious signs of fireworks-related anxiety, such as panting, drooling and attempts to escape, there are also more subtle signs that owners should be aware of, including restlessness and toileting in the house. Cats often hide, while rabbits may keep very still and thump the ground with their back feet. Poultry are especially at risk of ‘smother’, where in a fear response birds huddle together, which can result in death for some.
British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Dr Elizabeth Mullineaux said:
“The loud whizzes, bangs and whistles of rockets, Roman candles and sparklers can be fun for some of us, but fireworks displays can be extremely traumatic for animals. Each year, vets treat animals with injuries as a result of stress and fright, as well as burns.
"Contact your vet now to discuss noise desensitisation techniques, pheromone products and other treatments that may be appropriate for your pet. Make sure pets are microchipped with up-to-date details in case of escape. You can also take simple steps around the house now, such as creating a den for dogs and cats, to keep them safe and calm when fireworks start.
“If your pet gets significantly distressed by fireworks, ask your vet about longer-term treatment options, which can be successful with professional input and owner commitment and patience.”
BVA suggests ten top tips to help pet owners and livestock keepers prepare animals as fireworks season approaches.
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