Helping Your Pet Stay Calm This Bonfire Night

With Bonfire night nearly upon us, it’s important to know how to soothe our fearful furry-friends and help them stay calm as possible.

PDSA Vet Nina Downing said: “Fireworks can result in severe anxiety in our pets; causing them to freeze with fear, soil themselves, or even injure themselves in their attempt to hide or run away. With many of last years’ firework displays cancelled due to the pandemic, thousands of the pets that were raised during lockdown will be particularly sensitive.

“It can take many months of preparation to support anxious pets, but there are also plenty of things you can do this week to keep your beloved pet as calm as possible during the loud nights.

Leading up to loud nights

“If you’re expecting your area to be lively this week, it can be helpful to ask your neighbours if they are planning to have fireworks and to let you know when they’re likely to go off. That way, you’ll know exactly which nights to be there for your four-legged friend amidst the surrounding celebrations.

“Take your dog for a walk before it gets dark and well in advance of when the fireworks are likely to begin. Encourage your cat to come home before dusk (consider making this their dinner time so they know when to come back) and keep them indoors if you think there might be fireworks. Don’t forget they’ll need a litter tray.

Keeping calm when Bonfire Night begins

“Try to keep doors, windows and cat and dog flaps closed. Draw the curtains and play music with a repetitive beat to help mask the sounds. For small pets, partly cover hutches and outdoor cages with blankets, so help with sound-proofing. If your rabbits or guinea pigs are kept outdoors, it’s a good idea to move their hutch into a car-free garage or shed a few nights before bonfire night or ahead of any plans for local fireworks.

“If your pet prefers to go away and hide, let them. Leave them alone and don’t try to comfort them – this is their way of coping. Don’t pick up pets or restrain them if they are scared, especially with cats: let them choose to come to you if they want to. If your pet is used to seeking reassurance from you in stressful times, comfort them as you would normally.

“Stay calm yourself. Keep your tone, mood and behaviour as normal as possible. If you get very anxious or comfort your pet more than usual, this can make your pet more unsettled. Never punish your pets if they react to fireworks – their enhanced senses mean that the loud bangs, vibrations and flashes can be quite distressing, and they can’t help feeling scared or anxious.”

For more information on how to prepare your pet for Bonfire Night and to download PDSA’s Firework Guide, please visit their website here.

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