We all love autumn; this year’s display of golden leaves has been particularly spectacular. The nights drawing in also heralds the start of some of your most cherished celebrations including bonfire night. For our pets, however, bonfire night can be a very frightening experience. Did you know that more horses, cats, and dogs go missing on bonfire night compared to any other day of the year? For the past ten years, I have not been able to see the firework celebrations as my dogs suffer terribly at this time of the year. So here I am going to give you my 5 top tips for keeping your fur friend safe this 5th of November.
My first tip is to prepare. If you know your pets are scared by fireworks make sure that you are ready and have any drugs/calming products ready for when the fireworks start. With large firework displays cancelled due to COVID who knows whether more people will have smaller gatherings at home in the garden making this year a lot more difficult to prepare for. I have noticed that many of the supermarkets are not selling fireworks at the moment so hopefully (fingers crossed), fewer people will be letting fireworks off at home. If you know your pet suffers from loud noises it may be worth asking the neighbours if they have any plans for bonfire night or posting on your local Facebook group so you can plan ahead for your pets.
It is essential to check that your pet’s microchip details are up to date just in case they do go missing.
2. Keep To Your Pet’s Routine
Keep your pets to their normal routine as much as possible so they don’t suspect anything. It is amazing just how much they can pick up on from us. Keep mealtimes the same and if possible try to make sure you walk your hounds before it starts to get dark. The last thing your want is for bangs to start when you are out on a walk. Once everyone’s safe inside ensures they stay there by closing flaps to keep your best friends safe overnight.
3. Create a Cosy Den
Make your home cosy and safe by closing curtains after dark and covering the sound of bangs with the TV or radio. You could even play some ambient or calming music. Creating a cosy den also gives your dog somewhere to hide and feel safe. A crate is perfect with lots of soft cosy bedding inside and blankets or towels draped over the top. Just make sure you leave the door open to allow your dogs to go in and out as they please.
Our pups are pretty used to their crate and sleep there every night under the stairs. shown below is how it is normally set up for them overnight. Some dogs are not used to crates or are just too large to fit in one so a good alternative is to provide them with lots of bedding to bury into. A table or chairs with a blanket over the top might also be a good option for larger doggies.
Cats may also benefit by having somewhere to hide in the house and for our smaller fluffy friends, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, you could bring their hutch indoors and/or cover with breathable blankets to muffle any noise. Give them plenty of extra bedding as well to burry into so they feel more secure.
4. Seek Help
Vets will only give medications if there are no other alternatives but this does not mean that there are no products out there to help your pet through firework season. The market is full of products and if you are not sure what to buy speak to your vets or your local pet shop who will be able to help you choose what’s best for your pet.
There are two main types of products which I would recommend for your pets. The first is a plug-in diffuser, these release scents or pheromones into the environment which help to calm your pets. Trusted brands include Pet Remedy, Adaptil (dogs), and Feliway (cats). The other type of product you can give to help your pet is a calming tablet. Rather than medication, these tablets use natural ingredients to help promote calming messages to the brain and can also help them to feel drowsy (think post-Christmas turkey snooze fest). THE products I have used on my pets and worked are Zylkene and Nutracalm.
5. Keep Calm Yourself
If your pet starts to get worried make sure you don’t react to the bangs as well. Keep calm and give your pet plenty of signals to show that there is nothing to worry about. If they get worried don’t force them to be cuddled, let them go where they prefer to feel safe and if they come to you for reassurance then do but also if they don’t want cuddles then give them space.
Hopefully, with my tips, your pets will feel better this bonfire night. If you need any further advice then speak to your vet. They can recommend a behaviorist who can help to desensitise your dog to fireworks ready for next year. If your pet has suddenly started becoming noise sensitive this could be due to an underlying health condition. Recent research suggests that pain can cause pets to become more sensitive to loud noises. If this is the case then it is also worth talking to your vet and maybe getting your pet checked out to ensure there is nothing else going on.
Remember, remember the 5th November! Whatever you’re planning this year I hope you all get to enjoy bonfire night this year safely.