The days are getting shorter, evenings are getting darker, and you’ve probably already heard the telltale signs that Bonfire Night is just around the corner. While humans might enjoy this time of year, it can be very distressing for your pets. The RSPCA estimates that around 45% of dogs show signs of fear when there are loud noises such as fireworks. This fear can be seen in behaviour such as hiding, shaking, crying, or howling. It doesn’t only affect dogs – cats who find themselves spooked by the loud noises may run away and struggle to find their way home again.
Fireworks phobia is treatable at best, and manageable at worst, so if you’re worried about your pet this fireworks night, or if this is their first one, follow our advice for a calm and relaxed evening.
Create a Routine
You should try to walk your dog during daylight hours, as going out while there are fireworks going off around them will be very distressing for both of you. As night falls, you should close the curtains to hide any flashes and muffle the sounds. You might also want to put on the TV or some music to mask the sounds. Cats should always be kept indoors on bonfire night, even if they usually like to roam. Bonfire night is an excellent time of year to make sure that your pet microchip details are up-to-date, as it is, unfortunately, a popular time of year for pets to run away.
Give Them Somewhere to Hide
You might find your cat or dog darting under the bed if they hear a loud noise, so make sure they have access to their usual hiding place during the fireworks. While dogs might appreciate your reassurance, cats should never be coaxed out of their hiding place as this will only cause them more distress. You should never punish a pet for being afraid, as this will only cause them to develop a bad association with fireworks and prolong your problems. Older animals, particularly those with eye problems, will struggle even more so it will be important for you to be there to make they don't hurt themselves.
Don’t Forget About Small Animals
If you have other small animals that live outside, such as rabbits or ferrets, you should try to cover their hutches or pens as best as possible without obscuring their view. This will provide some sound proofing while still allowing them to see out. You should also provide some extra bedding so they can burrow if they get scared.