If you could ask your pet what their biggest fear is, their answer would probably be ‘fireworks’. As humans, we associate these with happy times like Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve, but most pets get unsettled by the loud bangs and flashes.
One of the ways pet owners can prepare ahead is by making a pet den: a safe place your pet can retreat to when the fireworks set off.
How to build a pet den
1. Find a quiet place in your home away from windows, and use a crate, a cardboard box, a chair or a table as the frame for your den. Make sure you have a hiding place for each pet!
2. Cover your frame with a blanket to create a feeling of enclosure (if using a box, make sure it’s sturdy enough so it won’t collapse). The blanket will help muffle the bangs.
3. Place your pet’s bed inside. Adding some fluffy blankets and/or cushions will help make the inside of your den extra cosy and snug.
4. Scatter some familiar items inside, like your pet’s favourite toys and an item of clothing you no longer use. The familiar smells and positive associations will add to your pet’s sense of safety.
5. Leave a bowl of fresh water nearby (scared and thirsty is no good combo!).
If your cat or dog tends to get very anxious, use a pheromone-based spray, collar or diffuser (we like Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs). These are mild, so they can be used alongside medication, but their calming effect is powerful. For best results, start using a couple of weeks before the event. This is also when you want to introduce your pet to their new hideaway.
- A scared animal won’t eat or go to the bathroom for hours. Prevent this by feeding your pets during the day and walking your dog before dark.
- Some pet owners find that playing background music, opening taps, or turning up the volume on their TVs can help distract their pets from the noise.
- Soothe your kitty or pooch if they look for comfort, but let them hide or go away if that’s what they prefer. Keeping them indoors will ensure they’re safe, so remember to keep doors, windows and pet flaps closed.
- Relax and enjoy the fireworks! If you stay calm, your pet will be the first to sense this.