Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fireworks and Animal Welfare concerns

This weekend is Halloween and soon it will be Guy Fawkes Night!

Every year thousands of pets are caused unnecessary distress, fear and suffering as a consequence of fireworks and animal welfare charities are striving to raise public awareness of the problems caused to both domestic pets and wildlife.  We urge pet owners to be aware that fire-work displays and the associated unpredictable loud noises and bright lights produced by modern pyrotechnic devices can cause disturbance for many species of domestic and wild animals.

Prof Nat Waran of the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education reports that there are many studies showing the extent of welfare problems for animals at this time of year. In a study carried out by our colleagues, with more than 1000 responses to a pet survey carried out in 2005, relating to 3527 dogs and cats, almost 50 per cent of the pets showed negative responses to fireworks. Fear of fireworks resulted in dogs exhibiting active fear behaviours, whereas cats were more likely to exhibit hiding and cowering behaviours. Prof Waran says that the animals’ responses to fireworks ranged from trembling and hiding, to escape and destructive acts, and a number of pets (51) were injured while trying to escape or hide. Even laying hens have been found to a reduce egg production on the day after a nearby fireworks display, and there are numerous reports of disturbance to wildlife, and horses running through their field fences due to panic.

Whilst banning the private sale of fireworks may solve some of the problems, there is still a need for pet owners to take steps to prevent fear of fireworks from developing in their pets from a young age.

Owners should plan ahead by consulting their veterinarian and/or a qualified animal behaviour expert well before Guy Fawkes Night, so that they can prevent their pet from suffering any unnecessary distress. For tips and guidelines, please visit -

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