With Bonfire Night just around the corner, many pet owners across the UK may be feeling worried about how their pets will cope with the fireworks this year. The RSPCA has estimated that around 69% of pet owners take extra measures around this time of year to ensure that their animals are feeling calm and relaxed. With this in mind, we have created this guide containing useful tips on how to keep your pets safe on Bonfire Night and during firework season.
How to calm dogs during fireworks
Make sure that you take your dog for a walk before the fireworks begin and do not let them outside in your garden during firework displays. This will prevent the chance of your dog bolting or charging fences in reaction to the noise.
Instead, ensure that your dog is kept in a quiet area of your home – preferably a room that is situated as far from the nearest fireworks event as possible – and do not interfere with your dog whilst they are kept there. Make the area a place of pleasure for your dog; for example, you could leave their favourite toys, some chew toys or treats for them to be distracted by.
Close your windows and curtains to muffle the sound as much as possible. Some dog owners also find that playing music to block out the sound of fireworks can be helpful for soothing their canine companion. Classic FM run a ‘Pet Classics’ show from 5pm to 9pm on 4th and 5th November (when the fireworks are at their peak), which provides calming music meant to relax agitated animals.
Alternatively, if you are really struggling to keep your dog calm during Bonfire Night, then there are herbal over-the-counter remedies you can try. Our Calm-Eze tablets are a natural dietary supplement suitable for both cats and dogs and are an ideal solution for stress caused by fireworks as well as thunderstorms or travelling.
For extra protection, our tablets can be combined with our Calming Collar, which contains valerian and lavandin – two natural ingredients traditionally known for treating stress. The collar diffuses these ingredients to keep your dog calm for up to four weeks.
How to calm cats during fireworks
Before the fireworks start, it is important that you get your cats in early (if they are outdoor) and keep them in to ensure that they are safe. If your cat is frightened by fireworks, it is important that you try not to bother them or tempt them out of hiding spots; instead, leave them alone and let them come out when they are ready.
Cats feel in control when there are spaces that they can hide. Ensure that your home has hiding spaces (such as the top of kitchen cabinets, underneath beds or furniture, cat trees etc.) that your cat can retreat to when the fireworks start. This will help them feel safe until they are ready to come out.
How to calm small pets (such as rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs, chinchillas & ferrets) during fireworks
If possible, we recommend that you bring small pets indoors – whether that be in your home or a suitable space on your grounds such as a shed or garage.
If this is not an option for you, then we advise you partly cover outside cages and pens with thick blankets to ensure that their habitat is soundproofed as much as possible. However, do leave a small gap so that your animals can look out, otherwise this step could cause more distress than necessary!
If your small animal is the type that likes to burrow (like a guinea pig or ferret) then provide ample bedding that allows them to do so. This instinctual behaviour is a self-soothing method that can help them feel safe, even if it does not completely alleviate their stress from the fireworks.
How to calm horses during fireworks
The key to keeping horses calm during Bonfire Night is what you can do in advance of the festivities. If possible, check to see if there are any firework events occurring in your area and speak to the organisers about your concerns. You may be able to convince them to at least set off their fireworks in the opposite direction of where your horse is situated.
During the fireworks, keep calm – your horse will only be further agitated if it witnesses you acting angrily or upset to an unexpected firework display your neighbours have organised. If your horse is acting in a dangerous or unpredictable manner then keep your distance to ensure your own safety, and make sure there are no nearby sharp or protruding objects that your horse could accidently bump into and hurt itself on.
Try and distract your horse by providing extra hay. If your horse is kept in a stable overnight, try putting the radio on to mask the sound of the fireworks, and do regular checks during the night to check your horse is coping well. If you have a strong bond with your horse then your presence may have a calming impact, so try to spend as much time with him as possible.
It is good practice to plan ahead with Bonfire Night if you know that your pet is likely to get agitated by the firework displays. Although it is unlikely you will be able to eliminate behaviours or train your pet out of fearing fireworks, following these tips may help distract or soothe them; ensuring that you too can enjoy Bonfire Night without the added stress!