Fireworks Warning After Distressed Pets Die

As we enter the party season, it is important to remember our pets when fireworks are expected.

The U.K. has seen a spate of deaths and injuries to animals in the recent weeks, all allegedly caused by fireworks.

Over the weekend, a rabbit in Cornwall is suspected to have died after being frightened by nearby fireworks.

The rabbit's owner, Donna Pilgrim, said her rabbit had started "trembling and shaking" in a Facebook video, which showed the rabbit doing just that.

"He let out a squeal and laid on his side, now wont (sic) stop shaking," she said.

He later died.

Archie the rabbit was "shaking and trembling" after fireworks went off nearby. Image: Donna Pilgrim

The same night, an 18-week-old terrier in South Yorkshire also allegedly died from a heart attack brought on by stress from fireworks.

"Due to the enormous amount of fireworks with loud bangs going off around Wombwell and lower Darfield last night, we lost a young terrier with a heart attack," owner Susan Paterson said on Facebook.

Molly the terrier allegedly suffered a heart attack. Image: Susan Paterson

A horse in north Wales spent Monday night impaled on a fence after being spooked by fireworks, the RSPCA said.

The horse suffered injuries to its leg and is expected to have two months of recovery in front of him.

Harry the horse impaled himself on a fence after hearing fireworks. Image: PA

RSPCA UK's 'Bang Out Of Order' campaign is calling on the U.K. government to strengthen its firework laws.

A petition on the U.K. Parliament's website has already amassed more than 300,000 signatures supporting the move. After 100,000 signatures, British MPs must consider the petition for debate.

The British government is now working to gather evidence as it considers changing the laws.

The petition has been closed early because of the upcoming General Election. Image: UK Government

Australia already has tight laws about firework sales. Apart from Tasmania and on July 1 in the Northern Territory, it is illegal to purchase fireworks across the country.

But with party season upon us, it is a timely reminder that pets and animals must be cared for when fireworks are going off.

Dogs, in particular, have heightened senses which amplify sights, sounds and smells of fireworks, Dr Jade Norris, RSPCA NSW Vet Science and Policy Officer told 10 daily.

"For them, the event can be amplified compared to what a human is experiencing," she said.

Australia has stringent laws about buying fireworks. Image: Getty

There is no data collected on the number of animals that die due to fright caused by fireworks or thunderstorms, whether it be death by fright or injuries suffered trying to flee.

While deaths such as those in the U.K. are rare, there is always a risk of injury or fatality when animals are exposed to fireworks, Norris said.



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Some animals may also be more susceptible than others to suffering stress or anxiety when fireworks are nearby.

"Some animals suffer noise phobias and become very anxious and may try and escape to runaway from the noise," Norris said.

How Can You Protect Your Pet

Never tether your animal: Norris stressed that an animal should never be tethered if there is a risk of a thunderstorm or nearby fireworks.

"I heard of a dog that was tethered to a balcony and jumped off and hanged itself," Norris said of one incident.

Tethered animals are at risk of injuring themselves if spooked. Image: Getty

Don't leave animals alone: If a pet owner knows there are fireworks nearby it is important animals are not left alone in case they manage to escape, become injured or experience anxiety.

Also don't leave them outside -- bring them into the home and close windows and curtains.

Act normally around your pet: Norris advised that owners should stick to their usual routines and don't outwardly show concern for the pet as they can pick up stress.

"Don't overly console them, try and act normal. If the owner is anxious that can make things worse," Norris said.

Take them for walk before: A walk well before fireworks are expected can help tire out the animals.

"Exercise during the day can also help them with their anxiety," Norris said.



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Behavioural modification: Gradually exposing animals to low grade sounds and increasing the noise can desensitise them.

"Rewarding animals for calm behaviour reinforces that message," Norris said.

Turn on the television or radio: Having background noise that is calm (don't have the fireworks on the television!) can help reduce an animal's stress and act as a distraction.

Let them hide: Let them pick where they want to hide and don't force them to come out.

Let animals hide if they are cared. Image: Getty

Norris said owners should always talk to a vet if they have concerns for their pets and make sure they are microchipped with up-to-date information.