- Stay Safe. Safety must always be the number one concern, regardless of the size of your display. Please read our safety page for full guidance.
- A display above water can be spectacular - the reflection gives you twice the light for your fireworks!
- Consider your neighbours. To ensure good relations and a trouble free display, advise your neighbours in advance to allow them to make provision for their pets. Better still, invite them!
- Multiple Fountains. For a bouquet of sparks and fire, set off several fountains together but remember to be safe and keep them vertical.
- The More the Merrier. Rockets look good on their own, but set them off in twos or more together to dramatically increase your display's professionalism.
- Take it Easy. A single ignition display or cake will give 1000 times the continuity as a few small, separate fireworks of the same price and save you the work of lighting each one.
- Think Big. Get together with your friends and neighbours to get a joint display going. It'll be bigger, more social, more impressive and often work out cheaper - everyone's a winner!
- Be creative. The fireworks have descriptions of their effects on them so use your mind's eye to imagine great combinations of colours and effects. Get ideas from professional displays.
- Don't limit your firework skills to just one night a year. They enhance birthdays, parties, New Year's Eve and add an extremely romantic touch to weddings. They also make an original present for any of these occasions.
- Be safe. This has to be repeated as it should always be the main priority of a display of any size. Please read our safety guide for more details. Also, if you are hiring a firework company to do a display check out their safety record.
Caring for your pet
The following article is by Sam Kenny, one of the veterinary nurses at Lancaster Veterinary Centre. Sam's special interest is dog behaviour and this year she is organising the practice campaign to help dogs with noise phobias during firework season. If you have any questions, you can contact the Lancaster Vetinary Centre for help and advice. See the base of this page for contact details.
- Noise phobias can be difficult to treat, as the event that causes the phobia is generally infrequent or unpredictable. This is the case with fireworks. Recently good-quality sound recordings on CD have become available and so counter-conditioning (or teaching your dog to accept loud noises) is now a possibility. Counter-conditioning is excellent for long-term treatment, but in the short-term other methods to relieve stress and anxiety should be used.
- Preparation is the key to relieving the stress of Bonfire Night.
- The earlier you can start providing a suitable, quiet environment the better. It is useful to provide a refuge for your dog to hide in, a covered box with lots of bedding to enable digging (this can help release stress) or behind/under furniture would be a good place. If your dog already has a favourite place to hide then this area can be modified. Generally speaking a room in the centre of the house with small or no windows would be an ideal choice - the aim is to reduce the amount of noise entering the room.
- The use of DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) diffusers or collars can help to reduce anxiety. The diffuser should be used in the area the dog frequents and should be plugged in 24 hours a day for at least two weeks before the event (it is recommended to start using these products about 4 weeks before the event) they should stay in place for 2-4 weeks after the event.
- A good carbohydrate meal in the early evening and a good walk will help your dog to relax. It is important not to walk your dog whilst fireworks are going off, as this will reinforce the fear, so try to time the walk to before dark, then feed about an hour after your return. If your dog loses control of its bladder and/or bowels when it is frightened it is advisable not to feed a large meal!
- Dogs will sometimes dig or chew things to help relieve stress and anxiety so providing chews or toys and plenty of bedding to dig in should help.
- Moderately loud rhythmic music or the TV can help mask the noise of fireworks. Music with a constant beat works best, so providing this type of distraction may be helpful.
- The hiding place should be accessible at all times so make sure the door is fixed open so that the dog is not accidentally shut in on its own or not able to get inside when it needs to. You also need to get your dog used to its hiding place so you may need to lead it there and reward it 2-3 times a day and/or feed it there. This will teach the dog it is a good place to go.
- Don't get cross with your dog when he is scared, it will only make him more frightened. Also do not try to soothe your dog as it give the impression that there is something to be frightened of and may also reward him for being scared. Ignore your dog when he is looking for attention or appears anxious and only show affection when he looks calm and relaxed. If you can ignore the noise of the fireworks and stay calm your dog will tend to pick up on this behaviour and copy you. Playing with him may also help, but many dogs are too frightened to want to play.
- There are various drug therapies available. We try to avoid the use of very strong sedatives as they do not reduce your dogs fear, they tend to make the dog more noise sensitive and make him incapable of doing anything about it, they are however sometimes necessary for extreme cases. The treatments we try to use nowadays have a mild sedative effect, they relieve anxiety and block the short-term memory, this then lessens the long-term effects of noise phobias. There is also a herbal treatment that can help in the relief of noise phobias, ideally the treatment should be started at least two weeks before the event.
- Drug therapy is not always necessary and providing a safe, secure hiding place and the early use of DAP may be sufficient. If you feel your dog may need some help to get through Bonfire Night please contact the surgery. In some cases you will need an appointment with the vet to be sure your dog is in good health and not likely to suffer side-effects from the treatment before we can dispense to you.