Fireworks are an exciting sight for us, but the bangs and bright colours can be extremely frightening for your pets. Almost half of dogs in the UK show signs of stress when fireworks are going off.
Signs of stress can include:
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help keep your pets calm - here are our top tips for dealing with the stress caused by fireworks.
Even if you think your home and garden are escape-proof, accidents do happen; having up-to-date details on their microchip will make it so much easier for your beloved pet to be returned home.
Try to find out when local fireworks displays are taking place - check your local Facebook page if you have one, and keep an eye out for posters or leaflets. Check in with your neighbours as well. If you know when fireworks will be going off, you'll have more time to prepare your home to leep your pets safe and calm.
Avoid taking your dogs for a walk after dusk if you know fireworks are likely to go off. Fireworks can be scary enough for a dog, but hearing them in an unfamiliar outdoor space will make it a lot worse. Keep dogs on a lead, just in case any fireworks go off earlier than expected.
Once fireworks have started, your cat or dog might feel too anxious to eat, so try and give them a meal an hour or so before you think they will start.
Animals will often instinctively hide when they feel threatened or frightened. Make sure that cats can get under furniture, or consider leaving a cupboard door open so they can get inside. If your dog has a crate or kennel, then make this extra cozy with blankets, and their favourite toys.
Make sure cats are indoors well before dark, and lock the catflap behind them so they can't escape. Avoid letting dogs into the garden when fireworks are going off unless totally necessary.
Ignore the fireworks yourself, as your pets can pick up on unusual behaviours. Remain calm, and stick to your normal routine if you can. If your pet can see that you aren't frightened or stress by the noise, then this will reassure them.
If they chose to hide, then keep an eye on them, but don’t try to lure them out, and certainly don’t force them. If they do come out their own, then reward calm behaviour with treats and affection.
Close windows and curtains, and put music or the TV on to cover the sound.
It’s completely natural for animals to be afraid of loud noises and flashing lights. If you scold or punish your pet for their behaviour, this will only add to their stress, and make the problem worse.
It's not just cats and dogs that get spooked by fireworks - small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters need extra care at this time as well.
Just like cats and dogs, small animals will feel more secure indoors when fireworks are going off. If you have pets that usually lie outdoors, start to introduce your pets to the indoors a few weeks before bonfire night - bring them inside to an indoor hutch for an hour or so at a time, and let them get used to the space. Then on nights when you are expecting fireworks, bring them inside well before dark.
If your pet has an indoor hutch or cage, then cover this up with a blanket to block out some of the noise and the flashing lights. If you can't bring your pets inside, then make sure their hutch is extra cosy and secure for them. Partly cover the outside with blankets or covers to help soundproof the hutch, but make sure they still have a place to look out.
Extra hay or straw will let small animals burrow in for safety. You could also add some extra boxes, cardboard tubes, or "igloos" for them to hide in.