Guy Fawkes (and New Year) mean firecrackers and fireworks. The effect of human celebrations on animals can take all the joy out of the occasion… if you’re not prepared.

For your pets, the noise is up to 7 times louder and they don’t know that it’s all for fun. Animals often go into a panic and flee in fright. They might develop a nasty phobia that causes them to react irrationally any time they see or hear anything related to fireworks and firecrackers.  They may bolt in panic, hide for long periods, get lost, be run over or even run right into an exploding cracker and suffer severe and painful injuries…

Here are a few ways to avoid the trauma and the injury that can come with mixing animals and pyromania. Below 10 ways to outfox the Guy Fawkes effect on pets:

  1. Make sure your pets are microchipped, tagged or have some form of identity showing in case they become disoriented and are lost.
  2. There are various natural treatments and over-the-counter products available in pet supply stores that can help reduce stress and encourage calm. Try a calming pheromone diffuser a few weeks before fireworks begin. Talk to your vet about medical measures if your pets are highly sensitive and naturally anxious.
  3. Walk or exercise them on the day so that they are more relaxed by evening time.
  4. Keep the animals inside on the night. The deeper in the home, the better. This will help muffle the sounds and flashes of lights.
  5. Draw curtains and blinds. This will party soften the sounds and also keep out alarming flashes of light. Keep some inside lights on. This will temper the flashes of light from outside.
  6. Stay with them if possible. Your company will have a reassuring effect. Talk to them calmly and don’t scold them for their behaviour.
  7. If you can’t stay with them, play gentle music that they know, or even the radio (if they’re used to it). This reinforces a sense of safety.
  8. If you can’t stay with them, consider relocating them a familiar, quieter and safer place for the night, like a sleepover at Granny’s (applies more to dogs). With those fine-tuned animal senses, they may still react, so they will still need to be safely secured and assured.
  9. Let them hide if they want to and don’t fuss over them. Forcing them to sit with you if they’re shaking and cowering is like punishing them for something they didn’t do.
  10. If you have a baby animal experiencing this for the first time you have a chance to train it to deal with the experience. Include treats and toys and engage the little one to distract if from the noise and lights.

Finally, it’s illegal to terrify an animal in South Africa. You can encourage others to avoid using firecrackers or to use them considerately and responsibly by starting compassionate discussions in your social circles and sharing this article.