Preparing pets for one of the loudest nights of the year
The last thing a pet owner wants to see is their furry friend upset, but sadly this can happen for many with fear and anxiety around Bonfire Night. Due to their enhanced senses, animals can find the loud bangs, vibrations and flashes from fireworks distressing, often leading to stress-related behaviours.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, says: “Firework season can be deeply worrying for many of our pets, but unfortunately, there are things we can do now to prepare them – helping to minimise the impact of this noisy affair.
Preparing for a scaring
“Start preparing your four-legged friend week-by-week, well ahead of any expected firework displays, to help reduce any anxiety they may feel on the night. At least four to six weeks prior to bonfire night, begin to get your pets used to the noise. Play firework sounds quietly throughout the house and reward calm behaviour with a tasty treat. As the weeks progress, gradually increase the noise, and continue to reward them for staying calm around the sounds. If they become upset, go back a stage in their training by reducing the volume to a level they are comfortable with.
“If your pet is particularly sensitive to changes in their environment, and the sounds s of bonfire night and other celebrations then it may be a good idea to consider using pheromone products as these can trigger a natural calming response in your pet – some even say they help owners too!
Safe and secure
“Make sure to secure your home and garden in advance, as fearful furry friends may panic and attempt to escape. Ensure any ‘escape routes’ – such as doors, windows and cat flaps are closed and locked, and that your garden fences are secure in case they do get out, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s also a good idea to ensure your pet’s microchip details are up to date, should the worst happen and they do flee.
“Build a safe, covered den in one of your pet’s favourite places for them to hide in. If you have room, cover a table with a blanket and fill it with soft and cosy bedding, their favourite toys, water and treats. Allow them to come and go as they please and allow this to be their safe haven where no one else goes. That way if they feel like they want to hide away when fireworks start, they can retreat there feeling safe and comforted.
Advice for smaller pets
“Rabbits and other small pets can also be frightened by fireworks, so soundproofing hutches is a great idea to keep the noise out and give them somewhere to hide. Do this by partly covering them with old carpets or blankets (making sure to leave gaps for airflow) and packing the bedroom area of their hutch with plenty of deep bedding so they can burrow down to feel safe.
“For furry family members that live indoors, move their enclosure away from any doors or windows and keep the curtains drawn to drown out loud noises, you can also use a de-sensitisation playlist to drown out the bangs of fireworks.
“If your pet gets severely distressed around bonfire night do speak to your vet well in advance, they may advise professional behaviour therapy or prescribed medications.”
For more information on how to prepare your pet for Bonfire Night and to download PDSA’s Firework Guide, please visit: www.pdsa.org.uk/fireworks2021