With bonfire night only a week away and Christmas and New Year on the horizon, many pets will feel anxious with the looming firework displays. Lots of animals are afraid of the loud sounds and flashing lights that accompany fireworks, but there are lots of ways to make sure your pet feels as comfortable and safe as possible on the night.
Speaking ahead of bonfire night, Andrew Bucher, our Chief Veterinary Officer, says:
“What is undoubtedly an exciting and fun time of the year, particularly for children, is one of the most stressful for animals. Many pet owners are not aware of the extent to which their animals can be affected. Dogs can hear around twice the amount of sound frequencies to humans, and cats over three times, so they are extra sensitive to loud noises like fireworks.
Studies have shown that stress and anxiety can affect our pets a lot more than we thought, as severe as increasing illness and in some circumstances death. I do not want to scaremonger, but the experience can be terrifying for many animals.”
Top tips: dogs and cats
1) Always keep your cats and dogs inside on bonfire night. It’s important that they feel free to hide in a place they’re familiar with if they want to, so if they want to run off and hide behind the sofa or under the bed – do let them.
2) Walk your dog early in the night, before it gets dark if possible to try and avoid any firework displays. Make sure to keep them on the lead so they don’t run off if they get scared.
3) Create a den for your pet using a cardboard box or puppy cage covered in some of their favourite blankets, which will block out the noise and flashing lights. If you do this, get them used to sleeping in the den in the period coming up to bonfire night so that they find it a relaxing and safe space. Don’t lock them in the cage though – they should be able to escape if they want to.
4) Although it might be tempting to cuddle and fuss over your pet, this can reinforce their feelings of stress and fear. Remain calm and try and distract your pet by playing a game or with treats.
5) Dogs and cats are more likely to drink more when they’re stressed so make sure their water bowl is accessible and full at all times.
Top tips: small animals
1) If your small pet usually lives outside, try to move their cage indoors or into a shed or garage.
2) Cover their cage with blankets to help block out the light and some of the sound.
3) Give your rabbit, hamster or guinea pig extra bedding so that they can burrow down and make a den which will help them feel safe as well as block out some of the sounds and flashing lights.
4) Try to distract your pet by hiding treats in their bedding to keep them occupied throughout the evening.
5) Never have your own firework display or bonfire near your pet – if you really want to do it make sure that their hutch or cage is far enough away or that they are safe inside.