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Groups urge public to protect pets from firecrackers

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Groups urge public to protect pets from firecrackers
This undated file photo shows people watching a fireworks display.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Animal welfare group Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition have appealed to the public to refrain from lighting firecrackers and fireworks during the holiday festivities for the safety not only of human beings but also of animals, especially domestic pets.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, the PAWS and EcoWaste stressed that exposure to firecrackers and fireworks can harm pets, especially cats and dogs that have a highly developed sense of hearing.

“The exploding noise from firecrackers and other pyrotechnics is torture to animals like cats and dogs who have a very keen sense of hearing. Aside from the ear-splitting noise, smoke inhaled from detonated firecrackers may cause anxiety, disorientation, loss of appetite and an upset stomach for our furry companions,” PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera said.

“What is worse is if they accidentally eat remnants of the firecrackers, this will result in gastrointestinal problems – symptoms of which could be abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and vomiting,” she added.

Cabrera said that post-New Year’s revelry, PAWS usually receives shocking reports of chained dogs strangling themselves to death or injuring themselves from trying to run away from the loud explosions during New Year’s Eve revelries.

“Firecrackers bring about a terrified response from many dogs and they could sustain serious and even fatal injuries just trying to get away from the deafening noise,” Cabrera said, adding that the situation is worse for strays, who often find themselves with no safe space to hide in.

PAWS also said there is usually an increase in reports of lost pets during the first week of January due to pets escaping from the confines of their homes during New Year’s Eve after being spooked by firecrackers.

For her part, EcoWaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero stressed that “firecrackers and fireworks represent a clear danger for animals and human beings and the environment at large.”

“For the health and safety of our canine and feline friends and our own children, we urge all individuals, households and business establishments to steer clear of firecrackers and fireworks and opt for a new way of welcoming 2023 without causing harm to animals, humans and the ecosystems,” she said.

Aside from urging the public to refrain from using firecrackers and fireworks, PAWS and EcoWaste advised pet owners to follow these tips on minimizing stress for their pets, especially if they anticipate that their neighborhood will not be free from the use of firecrackers and fireworks this coming holiday revelry.

Walk or take your pets for a run or vigorous physical activity before it gets dark so they will be tired by nighttime and would be soundly sleeping by the time the revelry begins.

Escape-proof your home to prevent pets from going out during the revelry. Make sure they have a collar with a tag indicating the pet owner’s details.

Make pets pee or poo before the revelry starts, and give them ready access to water. Provide a quiet and safe spot where pets can stay during the revelry; shut the windows, pull the curtains down and play soft music inside your home. Turn on the television if this will help mask the noise of the firecrackers outside and if you think your pet prefers the sound of the TV over other loud noises.

Act as normal and as calm as possible even while the explosions are at their worst so that your pets will take a cue from your behavior – that there is nothing to be alarmed about. Fussing over your pet may have the effect of increasing their tendency to panic.

Talk to your veterinarian about giving your pet drops of “Rescue Remedy” or calming edible drops on their favorite treat (available in organic pet supply stores) ahead of time. Dog owners who may be able to afford it may consider purchasing an anti-dog anxiety vest for dogs that have an extreme fear or trauma response to firecrackers.

Keep alcoholic drinks, chocolate, fruitcake, nuts, shopping bags, tobacco products and cleaning agents out of pet’s reach to prevent choking and poisoning incidents.?Give stray animals a safe haven in your garage if you have the space – provide temporary shelter, food and water, especially during the revelry.

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