It comes as no surprise that our pets can feel particularly anxious during firework season, with loud noises, unexpected bangs and bright light causing distress, discomfort and a general sense of fear. We can’t give our furry friends verbal reassurance, and so the next best thing is to be equipped with calming solutions and offer them a safe place to take refuge. Here we’ll run through some ways you can help them.
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, making the most of the daylight and avoiding 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 CD or a video to desensitise them, making them more comfortable with loud noises. If you do choose to do this, start gradually on a very low volume, slowly increasing it over a the next few days. It can take time, but it might be a productive way to help them overcome their firework fear.
Solutions and treatments
Depending on the severity of your pet’s distress 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 their mother would release to calm them. Available in several forms, you can choose a collar, tablets, a diffuser or a spray. Adaptil products won’t act as a sedative, but simply offer gentle, natural reassurance.
Feliway offer a similar range of pheromone-based products, helping to take the edge off when your cat is 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, think ahead and prepare a den or a hiding place for them to retreat to. This can be anywhere, from a quiet room to under a table, settle them with their bed, a blanket and a bowl of water to make them feel safe.
Remember to shut your windows and doors, as well as draw the curtains to block out the sound and lights of fireworks. The tv or radio might help muffle unwelcome bangs.
Don’t punish or shout at your pets if they behave unpredictable when fireworks are let off, this will only add to their anxiety. Remember that pets can struggle to process loud noises, and so while it might sound counterproductive, one of the best things to do is ignore any fearful reactions and act normal. They will look to you for reassurance, and so in seeing you act as you usually do, will remain calm.
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 leave 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 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.