THE last thing a pet owner wants to see is that their furry friend is upset, but unfortunately that can happen for a lot of fear and anxiety around Bonfire Night. Due to their enhanced senses, animals may find the loud bangs, vibrations, and flashes of fireworks distressing, often resulting in stress-related behaviors.
PDSA veterinarian nurse Nina Downing said: “Fireworks season can be very concerning for many of our pets, but unfortunately we can now do things to prepare them – helping to minimize the impact of this boisterous affair.
Prepare to scare
“Start preparing your four-legged friend week by week, well in advance of any scheduled fireworks, to help reduce any anxiety he might be feeling at night. At least four to six weeks before bonfire night, start getting your pets used to the noise. Play fireworks sounds throughout the house and reward calm demeanor with a delicious treat. As the weeks go on, gradually increase the noise and continue to reward them for staying calm around the sounds. If they do get upset, take a step up in their workout by reducing the volume to a level they are comfortable with.
“If your pet is particularly sensitive to changes in their surroundings and to the sounds of bonfire nights and other celebrations, it may be a good idea to consider using pheromone products as they can trigger a natural soothing response in your pet – some even say they help owners too.
Safe and secure
“Make sure you secure your home and garden ahead of time, as fearful furry friends can panic and try to escape. Make sure all “escape routes” – such as doors, windows, and cat flaps are closed and locked, and that your yard fences are secure in case they do come out, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date, should the worst happen and they run away.
“Build a secure, covered den in one of your pet’s favorite places to hide. If you have room, cover a table with a blanket and fill it with soft, comfy bedding, their favorite toys, water, and treats. Allow them to come and go as they please and allow them to be their refuge where no one else goes. That way, if they feel like hiding when the fireworks start, they can retreat there feeling safe and comforted.
Tips for small animals
“Rabbits and other small pets can also be scared off by fireworks, so soundproof hutches are a great idea to keep out noise and give them a place to hide. To do this, partially cover them with old rugs or blankets (making sure to leave spaces for air circulation) and filling their hutch bedroom with plenty of deep bedding so they can burrow to feel safe.
“For furry family members who live indoors, keep their enclosures away from any doors or windows and keep the curtains drawn to cover loud noises, you can also use a desensitization playlist to muffle bangs.” fireworks.
“If your pet is severely distressed during bonfire night, talk to your vet well in advance, he can advise professional behavior therapy or prescribed medication. ”
For more information on how to prepare your pet for Bonfire Night and to download the PDSA Fireworks Guide, please visit: www.pdsa.org.uk/fireworks2021.