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Getting your pets through the Diwali and Guy Fawkes celebrations

Diwali and Guy Fawkes season is here again, getting pet owners across the country to gear up to help their pets get through the stress that the firework-filled celebrations often bring.

In an effort to keep our pets safe and comfortable during this time the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) has compiled the below action plan for pet owners:

  1. Plan your schedule around the celebrations so that you can ensure you are home with your pets while the outside world appears to explode

  2. Take special precautionary measures to make this time easier on your pets:

  3. Keep them securely indoors, with sufficient food and water

  4. Stay with them, providing comfort and love and, if they’re up to it, try playing games with them to make it a more positive experience

  5. Play soothing music to try and drown out the frightening noises outside

  6. Investigate and make use of a ThunderShirt, which is a vest that aids in coping with anxiety

  7. If needed, give calming medication (ask your vet for advice) which can also assist in managing these otherwise stressful situations

  8. Prepare a “safe space” for your pet, where they can retreat to should the stress prove to be too much for them – they will choose the spot, often a small nook – watch where they retreat to when feeling stressed, and prepare a comfortable bed for them with access to water

  9. Remember that a traumatized animal is unpredictable, so request the help of a professional should you wish to aid an animal in distress

  10. If you cannot remain at home during this time be aware that the number of stray animals tends to increase over this period, largely due to runaways trying to escape the noise that causes fear, anxiety, panic and confusion. These escape attempts can often lead to injury, so try and ensure that they are kept in a safe space, limiting injury-causing elements in the space

  11. Sympathise with your pets and understand that the firework explosion that you hear is far more distressing to an animal. Fireworks emit sounds of up to 190 decibels (a full 110 to 115 decibels higher than the point at which damage to the human ear begins) and can damage the animal’s far more acute sense of hearing. They generate a noise level higher than the noise from gunshots (140 decibels) and low-level flying jets (100 decibels). Irreversible ear damage, such as tinnitus and loss of hearing in humans starts at the 80-decibel range, so one can imagine the impact that is has on an animal’s hearing, which is far more sensitive

  12. Keep your pets well away from the celebrations – animals that find themselves too close to firework explosions can suffer significant burns and eye damage

  13. Educate yourself on the overall impact of fireworks and consider this before partaking in the celebrations yourself. Although fireworks are beautiful to watch their negative impact on the planet is massive – aside from causing huge emotional distress to all wildlife, not just our pets, they also produce light, noise and air pollution, while their often discarded remains contribute to an already serious litter problem

  14. Equip yourself with information related to your local council’s bylaws and be prepared with an escalation plan should celebrations occur outside of these parameters

  15. In the very unfortunate event of your pet going missing be ready with an action plan to find them – let neighbours know, contact security companies to request that patrol vehicles keep an eye out, call all nearby vets in case someone has dropped your pet there, and if not move on the SPCA. All pets should be chipped and having a tag with your contact number on during these higher risk periods can make reuniting you with your pet a lot easier.


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