Bonfire night is approaching and that means fireworks and bonfires potentially causing a lot of upset to many animals. If you are the owner of a horse or dog who is frightened by the loud bangs and whizzes that fireworks create, you are probably already thinking about what you can do to ease both of your stress levels.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR HORSE CALM DURING FIREWORKS
The British Horse Society recommends the following checklist to help keep bonfire night as stress-free as possible.
- Do your research and try to find out if there will be any fireworks going off near your horses. If there is, approach the organiser to let them know there are horses nearby and politely ask them to keep the fireworks as far away as possible and to set them off pointing away from the horses.
- If you can, try to stick to your horses normal routine. If they are normally stabled at night it is best to keep them stabled. The same applies if they live out - providing, of course, that it is safe and secure for them to be out in the field.
- If they are staying out, double-check the field for objects that could cause injury should they be spooked during the fireworks. If they are stabled, double-check the stable for protruding nails or loose string.
- Make sure at least one experienced person is able to stay with your horse. Preferably, someone who knows your horse and vice versa.
- Play some music outside the stable area to help mask the sound of sudden noises and bangs. Keeping lights on may help lessen the effect of the sky lighting up outside.
- If you are staying with your horse, be sure to keep calm and stay positive. If you are worried and stressed this can makes things worse for your horse.
- Keep your own safety in mind when dealing with a horse that may be startled suddenly.
- Don't risk riding if there might be fireworks going off nearby.
- Check you have adequate third party liability insurance - if your horse becomes scared and escapes, causing an accident, you could be held liable for compensation.
- If you already know your horse will be unbearably stressed whatever you do, you might want to speak to your vet about sedation options.
Even the calmest horses can be upset by the bangs and flashes of fireworks nearby. Calmers can ease anxiety and help them relax.
Instant calmers in syringe form are great for giving on the day they are needed and provide near-instant results. Vetrocalm Intense Instant Syringe can be given as little as 30 min before it is needed. With no prior loading amount required. It can then be used every 2-3 hours as needed. £12.99 for 2 syringes.
If you think a syringe calmer might be tricky to administer, you could try adding a powder or liquid calmer to your horses feed in the days before it is needed. Global Herbs Supercalm Liquid gets to work quickly, within 2-3 days.
You could even opt for using LeMieux Lambskin Ear Plugs to dull the noise of fireworks. We would advise introducing your horse to these in advance though to get them used to wearing them before they are needed for real.
It is thought up to 45% of dogs are scared of fireworks and it can be just as upsetting for their owners to see their beloved animals in distress.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR DOG CALM DURING FIREWORKS
The RSPCA recommends the following to help your dog.
- Only walk your dog during daylight, don't go out after dark if there could be fireworks going off.
- Close all the windows and curtains to muffle the noise.
- Play some music or have the TV on to mask the sudden noise of fireworks.
- Create a quiet space for your dog. Some dogs like to hide if they are scared, so try creating some hiding spaces around the house.
- Ensure your dog can't escape if he is frightened. Make sure your microchip details are up to date, just in case.
- Don't reprimand your dog for being scared. Comfort them if it helps them to relax. Or leave them alone if they prefer.
- Don't react to the fireworks, try encouraging your dog to play with his favourite toy to provide some distraction.
As with horses, calmers can help ease their stress levels.
If you know when to expect the fireworks you can give Canikalm Once on the day it’s needed. Or Canikalm Daily can be given in the week or so running up to it being needed.
Alternatively, you might decide to have a complete change and begin feeding VetSpec Calm & Focused.
If you know, no matter what you do that your dog will remain very stressed, it's worth speaking to your vet who can offer other alternatives.