BONFIRE Night is a highlight for many, with dazzling fireworks displays, food and a host of entertainment on offer.
But the loud event can be traumatic for dogs and cats who can be terrified at the unusual bangs, so what can you do to help your furry friends? Here are a few pointers for the big night…
Why are pets scared of fireworks?
Last year in October and November the RSPCA received 345 calls from worried pet owners about fireworks.
The charity estimates that 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear the loud displays.
And three-quarters of UK pet owners want to see stricter rules on the times that fireworks can be lit, according to new research by Animal Friends.
But there are steps you can take to help your pet cope with the loud bangs and unusual lights.
How to calm dogs during fireworks?
There are a number of steps the RSPCA recommends to help man’s best friend:
- Walk them during the day to avoid night when firework shows are likely to take place
- Close all windows and curtains to muffle the loud sound of the bangs
- Put on some calming music or TV on to mask the firework sounds
- Create a quiet space or “doggy haven” where your dog can feel in control
- Create some hiding spots in the house and leave their favourite toys for them to find
The charity also advises dog owners to use Sounds Scary, which is a free therapy pack for dogs, created in collaboration with vets, with sound recordings.
The programme aims to help dogs to gradually cope with scary, loud noises such as fireworks or thunder.
Ensure that you only host firework shows on traditional celebration dates such as New Year and Bonfire Night ensures that other pet owners can know when to expect the show and can prepare accordingly.
How to keep cats safe on Bonfire Night?
There are a number of steps the RSPCA recommends to moggies stay calm:
- Provide some hiding places in your home where they can feel safe
- Cats can become more stressed if they’re outside during fireworks so ensure they are safely inside for the night
- Microchip your cats in case they escape outside when they are frightened
How to keep horses and small animals safe during fireworks?
For small animals:
- Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so a section is soundproofed and hidden, but there is still an area for animals to look out
- Provide bedding that small animals can burrow in to feel safe
- Consider bringing small animals indoors
- If you have a horse in a field, check to see if there are going to be any displays in your local area
- Try to tell the organisers of firework displays that horses are nearby and ask them to set off their fireworks in the opposite direction
- Follow further advice from the British Horse Society
What to do if your pet can’t cope with fireworks?
While there are steps you can take to make the firework period less stressful, you can seek professional help to aid stressed animals.
Ask your vet for further advice, and they might refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviourist.
Check out the RSPCA's free booklet on helping your pet through the night.
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