Title: Fireworks and your pet
Author: Bronwyn Hayes
Date: 2010/10/29

On the 5th of November, people around the world gather to celebrate Guy Fawkes with an array of sparklers and fireworks. Fantastic for kids and adults alike, but it’s a night of hell for many of our furry friends. Because animals are able to hear a wider range of sounds than humans can, the sound from fireworks is at least FIVE TIMES louder to them. The loud bangs scare them into darting off and seeking shelter where they feel safe and secure. This often means them escaping from your property, getting lost, or being accidentally killed as they run in front of cars.

There are a few things that you can do to help ease their stress:

  • If possible, keep your pets indoors on the 5th November with the curtains closed (try to keep dogs away from windows; some frightened dogs have hurt themselves jumping through a window). Put the TV or radio on to provide some noise distraction.
  • Get your cat a kitty cave, cuddle coil or even his carrier – these create areas that he can hide in.
  • If you know that your pet will become very stressed during the evening, chat to your vet about starting him on a calming supplement a few weeks in advance and ask about a sedative/tranquilizer on the night.
  • There are effective homeopathic remedies available too. You should probably start your pet on a homeopathic solution a few days before the fireworks.
  • Take your dog for a walk and feed your pets and provide ample water prior to the fireworks starting.
  • Don’t fuss over your pets during the fireworks. Stay composed and talk calmly to them, but show them that there is nothing to be frightened off.
  • You can also try introducing loud noises slowly for your dog to get used to – play a tape of thunder or bangs at low levels and slowly increase the volume over a period of time. Start with short sessions, praising your dog whenever he stays calm during the bangs. This does take patience and time, chat to your animal behavourist for more details.
  • Give your pets a nutritious and balanced meal at night – this is likely to make them more sleepy. Also, put familiar and comforting things around them such as toys, baskets, a catnip toy or chew toy, to keep them preoccupied

Don’t forget:

  • Ensure that your cat and dog have proper identification tags or microchips and ensure that your information is up to date. Your cat’s collar must have an elastic insert.
  • Dogs and cats are not the only ones to become stressed, keep an eye on your pet birds and small animals too and bring them inside if possible.

These are just a few ideas to help your pet during the evening. Please chat to your vet before starting any supplement or training program.

Other important facts to consider:

Harming an animal with fireworks will result in prosecution so please:

SPCA 24hr control centre – (021) 700 4158 / 59 (8.30am – 5pm) or
After Hours to - 083 3261604

Metro Police 24hr call centre – (021) 596 1999
(for complaints regarding illegal firework activities)

Also know the Law:

Setting off fireworks in residential areas is a criminal offence and punishable by law.
  • No person may light or ignite fireworks in any place where animals are present (R1 000 fine). This includes domestic homes.
  • No person may allow any minor (child) under his or her control to "use, light or ignite" fireworks (R1 500 fine). No exceptions to this rule.
  • The Firearms and Explosives Ordinance Act also makes it illegal for any child under the age of 16 to use or buy fireworks.
  • No person may use fireworks on any agricultural holding or at any school or senior citizens' residence without special Council authorisation (R1 000 to R1 500 fine). This authorisation must be sought well in advance of intended day.
  • No person can use fireworks within 500 metres of any petrol depot or petrol station without special Council authorisation (R1 500 fine).
  • No person or organisation can "present a fireworks display" unless formally authorised to do so by the Council. Authorisation is also required from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chief Inspector of Explosives. (Multiple fines of R1 500 are applicable).
  • At such a display (should permission be granted) a pyrotechnist and SA Police Services explosives expert must be present at all times. (R1 500 fines).
  • No person may deal in fireworks (sell or make available) unless they hold a fireworks licence in terms of the Explosives Act as well as the written authority of the Chief Fire Officer (R1 500 fine).

Firm enforcement of the by-laws will assist in reducing the noise and panic levels and allow people and their pets to plan for "noisy" periods thus producing a quieter, safer environment for all concerned.

This information kindly supplied Bronwyn Hayes


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