RSPCA and Dogs Trust issue advice on how to keep your dog safe during the fireworks

Charities have issued advice to pet owners to help keep animals calm after a fifth of people in Yorkshire say they are planning private fireworks displays.

The RSPCA fears this fireworks season could be the worst in decades for animals as more people opt for DIY displays at home due to Covid restrictions cancelling organised public events.

RSPCA polling has revealed 19 per cent of adults in Yorkshire plan to hold a private display at home this year.

Every year, the charity receives hundreds of calls about fireworks affecting animals. Over the last four years, the animal welfare charity has received 1,543 calls about fireworks.

Dogs have very sensitive hearing and are easily frightened by fireworks

Dogs Trust is urging all dog owners to take preventative measures to prepare their dogs for fireworks and has advice and support to dog owners to help keep their dog as stress-free as possible.

Jenna Kiddie, head of canine behaviour at Dogs Trust says: “For many dogs and their owners, firework season is always one they dread. But this year, dog owners are faced with the added worry that more fireworks will be set off in the local neighbourhood due to large scale gatherings being cancelled.

“Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying experience for them. Fireworks also tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs.

“There are lots of things dog owners can do to help make fireworks less stressful for their dogs. Simple steps such as providing safe spaces for them to hide or settling them before the fireworks start can make a big difference.

“We would also urge anyone thinking of putting on their own fireworks display to consider the welfare of their four-legged friends and others in the neighbourhood by following our Firework Dog Code.”

Advice for dog owners:

- Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well-exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.

- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.

- Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape.

- Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help them cope with the noise.

- Provide a safe hiding place – make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, perhaps under a table. Close curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out firework noises and flashing lights.

The charity has long been supportive of the Government introducing further restrictions around the sale of fireworks, limiting them to licensed, public occasions at certain times of the year, and organised events only.

But with many public displays being cancelled this year due to social distancing measures, the charity also has some advice for people holding private garden displays and how they can be considerate of the four-legged residents in their neighbourhoods.

Advice for people wishing to host a private display:

- Let your neighbours know well in advance, so they can prepare their dogs.

- Limit your display to 30 minutes or less.

- Opt for quieter, lower decibel fireworks.