Fireworks and pets - Italian style

Though fireworks are mostly seen and heard only around the 4th of July in the northern US states, in the south, where the weather permits more year-round outdoor activities (and where fireworks possession is legal), firecrackers can be heard on New Year's Eve or just about any holiday celebration.  And, while most of us humans enjoy the sounds and sights of these colorful explosions, animals feel very differently about it.

For animals, the explosion when fireworks are set off can cause heart problems, nausea, tremors, debilitating fears and lightheadedness.  It can also lead to “acoustic stress” as most animals’ ears are much more sensitive than humans.

Animals are confused as to where the loud foreign noise is coming from, causing them to run away frantically.  Unfortunately this sometimes results in them being hit by a car or lost. In other cases, animals may be too close to the explosion and receive burns or eye damage.  And, for hens, it's been noted that they have a lower production in eggs when around the noise.

Signs of stress in your pet to note:

  • Shaking
  • Excessive grooming
  • Barking
  • Marking the home
  • Running away
  • Soiling
  • Being over excited
  • Running in circles
  • Scratching at the furniture excessively
  • Drooling

And stress in your pet can cause stress for you!

Well, the Italian town of Collecchio, in the province of Parma, is doing something about this.  In 2015, the local government introduced new legislation whereby people are required to use "silent fireworks."  This is a means of respecting the animals and reducing the strain and anxiety it causes in them.

The fireworks manufacturing company, Setti Fireworks, makes these "silent fireworks" which still pack a spectacular light show but with no deafening sound to go with it. Setti designs their pyrotechnics to fit the venue and event that they will be used for.

So, if you live in a community where fireworks cause your dog to howl a blood-curdling bark or cause your cat to hide in the rafters, you may want to petition your local government officials to see if silent fireworks might be an option this coming Independence Day. 

And, if that's not possible...

Here are a few tips to help your animals get through the next fireworks event:

  • Start giving your pet Bach Flower Rescue Remedy about 7 days before the fireworks celebration.  This is a natural botanical medicine that can be dispensed in their drinking bowl and is easily purchased from any health food store or at Whole Foods.

  • Keep your pets indoors and provide them with an enclosed den where they can feel safe.

  • Turn the TV up or play music.  Classical music is by far the most soothing and can camouflage the outside sounds.  Close the curtains. Bring rabbits and guinea pigs in from outside and place them in a safe place.  Give them extra bedding to burrow in.
  • Make sure doors and windows are securely shut.  This is very important as it ensures your animal will not run off.  Make sure your pet has been micro-chipped or, at the very least, name tagged.

  • Try not to reinforce fearful behavior when they are anxious.  Animals are very sensitive and can pick up on our own anxiety.  If you treat your animal like a human baby smothering them with cuddles, embraces and nuzzles when they are scared, you are reinforcing their fearful behavior, which makes them feel worse.

  • Allow them to hide where they will.  This is a natural response to a fearful situation.  Don’t coax your cat out of her hiding place until she's ready. They will emerge in their own time.

  • Distract them with a game of some kind, new toys or chews for example, so they are not focused on the sound of the fireworks.

  • Walk your dog in the daylight and make sure that they go potty before and after the fireworks. Make sure you have fresh litter in your kitty's litter box.