Many pet owners dread bonfire night. The inevitable bangs and whistles followed by whimpers and shaking tails. It’s hard to see your precious dog or cat upset!
Firework anxiety is a real issue with some pets. The RSPCA estimates that up to 45% of dogs exhibit fear when they hear fireworks. The loud noises and bright lights can be very distressing for an animal. Read these tips to help calm your cat or canine so you can all have a more relaxed bonfire night!
Plan in advance
Make sure you walk your dog in daylight, and let your cat in before it gets dark. This will prevent pets from being out when the fireworks are at their peak.
Create a safe space
If your pet has a preferred sleeping area, make it extra cosy with soft blankets. Dogs feel comforted by their owner’s scent, so a worn jumper would be a good addition. Some pets like to hide when they feel anxious – especially cats – so setting up small areas with their favourite toys would be a good idea.
Hide the sound
Calming music or television background noise is a great way to mask the sounds of fireworks. Keep windows closed to muffle noises, and the curtains shut to hide sudden flashes of light.
Don’t shout at your pet for its behaviour. If dogs are being noisy or cats are scratching, an aggressive tone of voice will do nothing to calm their anxiety. Keep your voice soothing.
Be there for your pet
Having you nearby will help to reduce some pets’ anxiety. Don’t over-coddle them though, as changes in behaviour may reinforce the anxiety and suggest that there is something to be afraid of.
Try sound therapy
Dogs Trust are offering a free sound therapy download, called Sounds Scary. The program can help dogs deal with loud noises which cause distress. It has been developed with vets and scientists, and proven to be safe, effective, and simple to use.
Don’t forget the smaller pets!
Guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and similar pets can experience firework anxiety, too. Ensure they have lots of bedding to burrow in, and cover their cage to reduce the sound of fireworks. Leave a section covered so the pet can still see out. Very anxious pets should be brought inside.
Check your bonfires!
Although not strictly a pet, hedgehogs sometimes find a home in piles of firewood. Make sure you check for creatures who’ve found a home in your wood before you set anything alight!
Are you excited for Bonfire Night? Do you hate fireworks because of your pets? Share your thoughts, and tell us your tips in the comments!