Bonfire Night is fast approaching, and that means one thing: fireworks. If you’ve got a pet at home, you’ll know all too well that this can be a distressing time. Deafening bangs, thick smoke, fizzing sparklers: this time of the year brings a whole host of sights and sounds that can cause playful pets to behave erratically.
But don’t fret. Together with our social media followers, we’ve compiled some top tips for keeping your pets safe during this time. From calming walks to cosy blankets, we’ve got you and your pets covered.
When pets hide from fireworks can be due to them being scared, it’s also a result of their highly sensitive ears. To help calm your pooch, cat or even rabbit, make sure all windows and doors are fully locked. Closing curtains will help to muffle the sound, too, while playing some soothing background music may help to distract them from persistent banging. Our social media followers also have a few unique ways of reassuring their pets…
“Lots of play and reassure her when there’s a loud bang” Dinkii on Facebook
“One of my dogs is terrified of them. By accident, I discovered that he gets some comfort from lying in one the dog beds next to the switched on tumble dryer.” Pat on Facebook
“My three are fine and I get them out before they set them off and put the TV and lights on with the blinds shut.” Margaret Anne on Facebook
Give them a good cuddle
Like humans, pets love a good cuddle. It can make them feel safe and secure, and help to calm their nerves. While we’re sure you’d be more than happy to wrap your arms around your pet all night long, there’s actually a device which mimics this very act. It’s known as a ‘Thundershirt’ and it gives a gentle, constant pressure to your pet that helps reduce anxiety and over-excitement. If you don’t have one, a cosy blanket should also help to calm them down.
“Milly is terrified of fireworks. Adrian and the chair nearly went through the wall when she leapt on him tonight with all her 60kg. I’ve ordered her a thundershirt, hope it arrives in time.” Val on Facebook
“All lights are on…Extra cuddles given (dogs and kitty loving extra cuddles), extra treats given (dogs are now tricking me for extra treats – kitty just requests them). All distracted…so far…so good.” Sylvia on Facebook
“Our dog has a jumper she wears that calms her down. Not a thunder shirt, just a woolly jumper” Hannah on Facebook
Get walks in early
Unfortunately for pet owners, fireworks can go on all-night long. This means that it’s best to walk your dog, feline or ferret early on in the evening, avoiding the flurry of firecrackers launched later on. Try to give them a long, calming walk so they’re less energetic in the evening. When the time comes and fireworks do start, don’t make a big deal of it. Dogs, in particular, speak to their owners by using energy, so the less excited you are, the less concerned they are likely to be.
“My dog is fine with fireworks but I will take her out sooner at night!” Isabel on Facebook
“I always make sure I get my 2 cats in early, yes have to put up with wining to go out, but at least I know they are safe. As soon as the fireworks start they dash under the bed and don’t come out until they are finished. Then lots of cuddles and love from me!” Suzanne on Facebook
There’s no place like home
It may seem obvious, but make sure pets are kept inside while fireworks are fizzing in the night sky. It’s best to bring animals like rabbits and guinea pigs inside, as loud bangs can be extremely startling. If you have a pet that’s not used to being indoors, try making their outdoor space more bearable by putting a thick blanket over their hutch, etc. This will help to black out any bright flashes while creating a calming environment.
“So good to see tortoises included in the picture. Normally it’s only cats and dogs. My 4 torty boys are brought indoors until the fireworks are over.” Karen on Facebook
“My guinea pigs will be hiding under huge piles of hay and tucked up in their travel boxes, indoors.” Wanda on Facebook
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Some other tips
- Pick up any firework and bonfire debris and treats such a toffee apples and treacle toffee.
- Create a safe spot for them to hide if they want to such as behind a sofa or under a bed.
- Play background music or turn the TV on. Why not treat your pet to a show that includes other animals?
- Distract your pet with some pet friendly tasty treats.
- Ask a family member or friend to look after your pet, especially if they live in a remote or secluded area.
- Don’t leave your pet on their own.
- Make sure the cat flap is locked and your pets can’t escape outside to investigate the noise.
- Some dog trainers recommend playing a CD with firework noises around six months before Bonfire night. When played at a low level, this helps your pet become desensitised to the noise.
- Don’t tell your pet off for acting out of character. Whether it’s barking or over-excitement, if they react badly, try getting advice from a behaviourist. Early training and socialisation may make a massive difference in the long run.
- If your pet really is uncontrollable, seek help from a vet. They may be able to provide some calming medication.
Do you have any tips for calming pets down around fireworks? Did any of our tips help? We’d love to read your comments!