July 4th and New Year's Fireworks
Can Endanger Our Rabbits
(and other pets).
The loud noises of fireworks are a source of alarm and danger to rabbits. These noises may startle and frighten a bunny, sending him into a panic which makes him run in a frenzy or jump from perilously high places. A panicky run might send him crashing into solid objects; a too-high jump poses a risk of injury and even death.
Fireworks noise also subjects rabbits to less obvious but equally serious dangers. The sheer stress of being terrified can send a bunny into gut stasis, which must be treated immediately to get the gut moving again. If swift treatment is not successful, the rabbit may die. A badly frightened rabbit may also be so stressed that he goes into shock or leaks deadly toxins into his blood; a grave danger to his health and his life. It is important to realize that, while the deep, booming sounds of fireworks used in public displays are dangerous enough, fireworks sold to individuals produce sounds that are even sharper and more startling, as well as often nearer to where the rabbit lives so bunny’s extreme sense of hearing is magnified to horrifying proportions for a bunny.
What measures can we take to protect our rabbits?
First and foremost, do not utilize fireworks at home. However, we cannot control our neighbors. To accustom our bunnies to the kinds of loud noise they will be hearing, we can turn our radios on days before likely use of fireworks, starting with a relatively low sound level and gradually building up to a loud volume. Help prepare your bunnies by slowly getting them used to fireworks sounds. (Do NOT start with loud volume!)
We can do this again on the actual holidays with the loudest level occurring during the peak hours of fireworks displays. This will not keep the rabbits from hearing the fireworks, but it will help them not to be alarmed by a sudden sound since they are already hearing continuous loud noise.
Protecting other animals:
The dangers posed by loud noises are not confined to rabbits. It is important to keep cats, dogs, and other pets inside on and around “firework holidays.” Because of their heightened sense of hearing, many animals panic from the loud noise and become lost when they break out of their yards or homes to flee the terrors of fireworks.
In addition, some people find it amusing to abuse dogs/cats/other animals they come across by tying firecrackers to an animal, or inserting firecrackers into body openings, then lighting them. This results in horrendous suffering by the animal and the family who loves them. Keep your pets inside your home - not roaming free and not in the yard, even if you think the noises won't bother them. Go out with them for a brief potty break when needed.
Even indoor animals have been known to break through screen doors and glass windows. They simply want to escape and find a safe place to be. Sadly, they can then be hit by cars or lost forever. We should stay near our animals if possible, speaking to them soothingly and maintaining a calm demeanor to reassure them, while “inoculating” them to the frightening noises by exposing them to the loud sounds of a radio or TV. Give them a place to stay where they can hide and feel safe.
Do NOT share party food, drinks or other holiday items with your pet. Keep them on their normal diet because even one meal or inappropriate item may cause severe indigestion and diarrhea. It’s a very good idea to exercise and feed your pet a few hours before the fireworks start. A tired pet with a full stomach is more likely to stay relaxed while in their safe haven.
The sad story below comes from an HRS member who lost a beloved bunny to a condition brought on by the noise of a firecracker: “I wish someone had given me this information in time for my dear Clover-muffin. Clover was not one to get frightened easily by loud noises. But, one July 4, a particularly sharp firecracker in a yard near ours went off and Clover bolted from her room and raced down the hall in such a panic that she ended up practically bouncing off the walls. I was unable to go near her for several minutes. When she finally calmed down, she seemed fine. Little did I know that the shock depressed her immune system terribly and that clostridium, a bacterium that is normally present in a rabbit's system, was beginning to take over her little body. Two days later, Clover began to show signs of serious illness but it was late on a Saturday. No rabbit vet could be reached. My regular vet had given me his home number but was out of town for the holiday. Clover became limp and mostly unresponsive that same night and passed away from a heart attack when the clostridium entered her heart the following morning. She passed on July 7, 2002 -- exactly one year to the day from her adoption.”
NEVER TAKE YOUR BUNNY OR ANY OTHER PET TO A FIREWORKS DISPLAY! LET’S TURN UP OUR RADIOS AND HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY!