Fireworks and pets

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A local correspondent has sent Audlem Online information on caring for pets over the coming days which he suggests may be of interest. It says: "Bonfire Night is great fun for all the family, but it's easy to forget our four-legged friends don't feel the same. Terrified pets don't understand that it's all just an excuse for a party, and can panic and even injure themselves.

"According to the UK's largest dog welfare charity, 80 per cent of dogs are frightened by fireworks, and 45 per cent of owners even say their dogs need sedation to calm their nerves. Another charity adds: "Many of the calls we receive from concerned members of the public around fireworks night relate to dogs, but other calls are about a variety of other animals, including cats, rabbits, farm animals and wildlife.

A veterinary surgeon Sean Wensley adds: "Fireworks cause a great deal of distress and anxiety for our pets, and different pets show their fear in different ways. Dogs often tremble and shake, pace and pant, or become 'clinging' and reluctant to leave their owner's side. It is also common for cats and dogs to try to run away when they hear the bangs. They may also refuse to eat or may soil the house."

"There are steps owners can take to reassure their animals — the key for cats and dogs is companionship and to ensure, whenever possible, to be at home with them when fireworks are being used. Owners can distract them with other noises such as radios and televisions and should also seek to relax their animals by not panicking themselves.

"They should also ensure their pets are wearing collars, so they are easier to find should they become so scared they run away. If possible, small animals should be brought into a quiet room indoors in their hutches, with extra bedding to burrow in and feel safe, aviaries should be covered and horses should be stabled. Creating a "den" for pets made from cushions and blankets, with healthy treats being offered to make it a reassuring place to be."

"It is also suggested that owners have someone stay at home with your pets when big firework displays are on and put some music on, preferably something with repetitive drumbeats to help drown out the bangs, while getting your pet microchipped will increase the chances of you being reunited should it escape due to the loud bangs and flashes.

"Last of all, if you are having your own celebrations, pet owners should check beneath the bonfire just before you light it to make sure there are no cats or hedgehogs hiding underneath."