It comes as no surprise that our pets can feel particularly anxious during firework season, with loud noises, unexpected bangs and bright lights causing distress. And while we can’t just make all the scary fireworks in the world go away, what we can do is equip ourselves with calming solutions and offer them a safe place to take refuge.
Ways to support your pet
Preparation is essential for firework season, making it easier for you and your pet to navigate the period calmly. Take your dog for a walk during the day, so you can avoid evening walks when fireworks are more likely to be let off. The same logic can be applied to cats, if they usually stay out until dark, make sure they come in for the evening and stay safely indoors.
Make sure your pet is microchipped. It’s a legal requirement for dogs, but it’s a good way of finding lost pets quicker, so is advantageous for cats too.
In thinking ahead, you may be able to get your pet used to the noise that fireworks make. Consider playing a firework CD or a video to help desensitise them, starting gradually on a very low volume and slowly increasing it over the next few days. It can take time, but anything we can do to help them overcome their firework fear!
Depending on the severity of your pet’s anxiety and how they respond to treatments, there are products that can support them. Look to Adaptil, an option that releases synthetic pheromones that replicate the ones your dog’s mother would release to calm them. Available in several forms, you can choose a collar, a diffuser or a spray. Adaptil products won’t act as a sedative, but simply offer gentle, natural reassurance.
Feliway offers a similar range of pheromone-based products for cats, helping to take the edge off when they are agitated. Choose between a diffuser and a spray, both gentle options that can be used alongside medication since they don’t act as sedatives.
On the night
Don’t be surprised if your pet makes a dash for it when the loud noises start, plan ahead and prepare a den (a hiding place) for them to retreat to. This can be anywhere, from a quiet room to under a table, with everything they need to feel safe.
Remember to shut your windows and doors, as well as draw the curtains to block out the sound and lights of fireworks. Putting the TV or radio on (classical music is a great option) can help muffle unwelcome bangs.
Don’t punish or shout at your pets if they behave unpredictably when fireworks are let off, this will only add to their anxiety. Comfort them and try to act normally around them – your pet will look to you for reassurance, so your behaviour is also key.
A note on wildlife
Bonfire night can prove fatal for wild animals, particularly for wood mice and hedgehogs. This is a prime period for hibernation, and a pile of leaves is ideal for nesting. Build your bonfire on the day you plan to light it, and give branches a good shake in case small animals are inside.
With 50% of the UK rural hedgehog population now gone since 2000 alone, our role in keeping these spiky little mammals safe is crucial. Here’s some great advice from The Woodland Trust on helping them thrive.
With those tips, we hope Bonfire night isn’t an ordeal for your fur family, and that with patience and a little preparation, your pet forgets about fireworks in a flash.