Fireworks: Are They Dangerous For Pets?

dog impaled on fence due to fireworks
A photograph of a dog impaled on a fence has gone viral on Facebook after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Barberton South Africa posted the graphic image to show the effects fireworks can have on animals.

Did you know: Loud percussive type fireworks can emit sounds of up to 190 decibels, a full 110 to 115 decibels higher than the 75- to 80-decibel range, where damage to the human ear begins…

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As the hours drew closer to New Year’s celebrations I noticed more chatter on social media, of animal lovers (myself included) upset and concerned over the use or I guess the abuse of fireworks and their adverse effects on animals. They affect pets more than the average person might know… In a conversation with a friend of mine about the dangers of fireworks not just to humans but to our pets and wildlife, he said “I love animals but honestly had never really stopped to think about the consequences fireworks might have on animals, both domesticated and undomesticated”. This display of ignorance prompted me to write this article – through information sharing we can educate each other to make this world a better place for people and animals.

Tazzy terrified of fireworks in Zimbabwe
Tazzy safe inside her home away from the terrifying fireworks

Before I get into sharing my thoughts, I felt it necessary to point out that there are dogs out there, and perhaps cats too, that are not afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks. That’s expected as not all dogs are the same. I guess there is a myriad of reasons such dogs are not scared of fireworks… My guess is that the way the dog was brought up could be a huge contributing factor or perhaps the dog may just be an easy going dog; like how some people just never get startled.

Now… While loud percussive type fireworks are fun for humans, the loud unexpected sounds, smell of sulfur, and flashing lights cause stress and anxiety for a lot of dogs, cats and other animals causing them to run from their homes in an effort to escape the frightening fireworks. Before some readers think ok so what, they can be found… A lot of these animals then get injured or worse killed while trying to escape… Sadly some actually die from the trauma. You don’t need an experiment to see the evidence of the poor animals scared, some dogs can’t even handle thunder. Imagine how sensitive a dog’s ears are to hearing compared to our human ears and now imagine how the dog feels when fireworks go off… I am not a vet nor am I a scientist, but I am hoping my candid thoughts will make you more considerate towards completely banning fireworks for the safety of all inhabitants of this great nation. Surely a firecracker right by your ear will not be as amusing; it probably feels a lot like that for dogs and cats for the entire duration of fireworks.

You know the emotional and chemical reactions you have when you suddenly experience an unexpected LOUD BANG… Well, that same increase in heart rate, a rush of adrenaline, an increase in the stress hormones in your body is experienced by dogs and other animals. The whole time you are laughing and falling all over, a dog is terrified wondering if these loud bangs are the end of time. This makes me so sad… We are better than this as Zimbabweans.

I know this article is a little late because most of the fireworks went off on the 31st but perhaps this article will get a few people still blowing them to stop and think about how to celebrate without terrifying our furry friends. Surely in this technology era we can come up with other more creative non toxic ways to celebrate. I am not trying to pick a fight with those that love fireworks but rather I am trying to get you to see how wrong and backwards they are. Let’s lobby for their complete ban in Zimbabwe – we love our beautiful domesticated and wild animals; Their peace and happiness is a direct reflection of our love and passion for our country.

fireworks terrify Shenzi Sheeba safe inside
Brown one is Shenzi who shakes so much with fireworks and tries to hide. I have to speak loud and continue to stroke and massage her with Tv loud. So worried she will get a heart attack. White one is Sheeba, she does jump to the noise but tries to keep Shenzi calm which does not help. – Onwer: Leanne Lurie

If you live close to people who are not concerned about the well-being of animals and the disturbance caused by their fireworks, then stay very calm around your dog or pet and find a place in your home where the they might feel safe. Sadly sometimes, pet owners may transfer their anxiety and stress to their pet and make the situation worse. Give your pet treats and talk calmly to it… giving as much reassurance as possible. Keeping them indoors and playing music to drown the loud bangs can also help.

Make sure your dog has its tag on just in case it goes missing. Should you realize it’s missing then immediately go to https://www.zimshoppingmalls.com/lost-and-found/ and post details of your pet so that the ZimShoppingMalls community can help reunite you with your loved one.

Perhaps animal protection organizations should lobby the government to enforce restrictions on the use of fireworks or better yet A COMPLETE BAN. The following safety tips (source: Ohio Animal Defense League) should be followed to protect animals from fireworks:

dog injured trying to escape from fireworks
Dog injured trying to escape
through a fence because of
fireworks: photo credit – Sheree Natalie Mucheche
  • Consideration must be given to alternatives to massive firework displays, such as laser light shows.
  • The use of the loudest pyrotechnics should be banned completely.
  • Displays must use only nontoxic, non-percussive fireworks.
  • Displays of percussive fireworks should never be allowed in residential areas.
  • Displays should never be allowed where wildlife gathers or nest, especially threatened or endangered species.
  • Displays should be limited to specific areas, and should be kept short.
  • All area humane societies, animal care and control agencies and animal rescue groups should be alerted at least three months in advance of firework displays. This will give them ample time to include a notice in their newsletters and alert local residents of the impending fireworks.
  • Advance warning notices should be posted so that people with dogs and cats can keep animals indoors and play music to shut out as much noise as possible. Sufficient public notice of firework displays must be provided to allow animal caretakers ample time to take safety precautions. Firework safety materials that include how to protect animals from harm must be distributed in schools and released through all local media outlets prior to times of firework use.

Let’s exchange thoughts and comments below and if you like me agree that we don’t need fireworks then let’s work together to ensure that law bans their use within our borders.

Q. What are your thoughts towards the dangers of fireworks to animals?
Q. What are your thoughts to banning fireworks completely in Zimbabwe?

2 Responses to "Fireworks: Are They Dangerous For Pets?"

  1. Lucy
    Lucy   January 2, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Fireworks are ridiculous! They are a danger to adults, kids, property, birds, animals. Why in this day-n-age are we still using them? Animals die every year and thousands get injured as a result of these fireworks that seem to get louder every year. Surely in Zimbabwe we can come together as animal lovers and make sure that there are laws in place to ban these destructive forms of celebrating. What happened to good ol’ music and dance? Neighbors now compete to see who has the loudest fireworks each year. AND SOME GO OFF IN THE AFTERNOON TWO DAYS AFTER THE EVENT! COME ON PEOPLE! Ban fireworks in Zimbabwe.

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  2. Avatar
    Desi Hacker   January 2, 2017 at 9:16 am

    The Harare Spca has been inundated with calls and messages about missing pets. Lost pets are arriving from all over Harare. MANY ARE TRAUMATIZED They are not wearing collars and do not have microchips. During the festive season owners travel and are not aware that their pets are missing. It is advisable to always have your personal vet surgery number attached to your fridge as well as the numbers for the Harare Spca, with photos of all your pets so that they can be identified if necessary. Sadly some people will be searching for pets that will never be found. Animals hit by vehicles often hide away from the road and die a silent, lonely, painful death.

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