It’s almost bonfire night, which means the coats and gloves are out, sparklers are ready and people are planning their favourite firework viewing spot. While some of the family are out enjoying the night, let’s spare a thought for our furry friends…
Loud and sudden noises can make cats and dogs anxious, frightened or stressed, so bonfire night can be a tough time for them. Studies show that over 40% of dog and cat owners recognise their pet is afraid of fireworks, so it’s definitely necessary to take a few extra measures to look out for your pets on fireworks night.
How can you tell your pet is stressed?
Below are some common signs that your pet is stressed out by fireworks. Your pet may still be frightened even if they are not exhibiting these signs, so try out the tips below to keep them as safe as possible.
– Trembling or shaking
– Clinging to owners
– Excessive barking or aggression
– Cowering / hiding behind furniture
– Attempting to escape
– Going to the toilet inside
– Pacing or panting
– Refusing food
– Cowering or hiding behind furniture
– Trying to run away
– Going to the toilet inside / missing the litter box
– Refusing food
Top Tips For Helping Your Pets on Fireworks Night
Here’s some top tips on how to keep your pet safe through the whole of the fireworks season.
1. Microchip / Collar
Ahead of fireworks season, consider getting your pet microchipped if they aren’t already. If they are, check your contact details are up to date. This is a worst case scenario, but really important just in case your pet were to get spooked and escape amid the loud bangs. Dog owners should also consider a collar with a tag, which gives you the best chance for a speedy reunion should this ever happen.
2. Keep them inside
Never assume your garden is escape-proof. It’s kinder and safer to keep all pets inside on bonfire night. This includes keeping doors and windows closed, as well as blocking the cat flap or doggy-door if you have one.
Close the curtains in your home to keep out bright flashes of light and reduce the firework noises as much as possible.
4. Distract them with music
Putting on relaxing music can help to block out firework sounds and make them seem quieter, like background noise. For relaxing music, we recommend this relaxing classical music playlist or Classic FM’s album Time To Relax.
5. Make a den
Create a makeshift den out of towels, cushions or blankets to give your pet a place to hide where they feel safe. Dogs and cats might like to hide behind the sofa or even at the bottom of a cupboard or in a drawer (if they fit!). Make sure your pet can access this den at all times in the weeks leading up to firework night. Give healthy treats when your pet uses it to build a positive association, but make sure you don’t force them to use it if they would rather hide somewhere else.
6. Food before fireworks
Feed your pet early, before firework displays are likely to start. If they become scared by loud noise, they may refuse food.
If your pet suffers badly from stress, you can use a pheromone plug-in which releases relaxing scents. Humans can’t smell these but they can really help your cat or dog. Your vet can recommend these, or you can buy them from a pet store.
8. Stay calm and comforting
Even if your pet gets visibly anxious, stay calm and try to act normally throughout the evening. Give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide, then let them do this. Don’t try to tempt them out if they are more comfortable where they are.
Hopefully these top tips will help guide you and your pet through fireworks season. This may seem like a lot of information, but the main thing you can do is be sensible and empathise with your cat or dog. For additional reading, check out these articles by the RSPCA, PDSA and The Blue Cross.
For more top tips, blogs and some fun quizzes, check out Pets in a Pickle News.