Bonfire night is a classically British event. It is a time to make memories over hot dogs, toffee apples, and sparklers. People stand mesmerised by fireworks, gazing at colourful displays and gasping at explosions. The bright flashes followed by the bangs trigger a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing dopamine and causing spectators to feel pleasure.
For many pet owners, fireworks night is possibly one of the most feared nights of the year. Pets can find the big bangs and bright flashes frightening, causing panic and triggering a fight-or-flight response. They can be unpredictable, acting out of character, causing stress, injury to themselves and possibly others or running away.
Fireworks can last a few days on either side of Guy Fawkes night. There are usually fireworks celebrations on New Year’s Eve and other odd occasions throughout the year. Preparing your pet to stay calm during the fireworks season is possible. Safer Pet has six tips on keeping your pet calm on fireworks night.
Why Are Pets Afraid of Fireworks?
Dogs and cats have exceptionally sensitive hearing. The loud bangs of the fireworks sound more thunderous to your pet than it does to you. Animals cannot always detect where the sound is coming from, so your pet feels anxious.
Signs To Look for That Your Pet Is Afraid
Some warning signs to look for that your pet is feeling scared include the following:
Signs of Stress in Your Dog
- Panting and pacing
- Trembling and cowering
- Trying to run away and hide
- Urinating inside
- Clinging to their owners
Signs of Stress in Your Cat
- Hissing or growling
- Scratching excessively
- Acting aggressively, such as swiping with their paws
- Urinating outside of their litter tray
- Excessive meowing
How Can I Keep My Pet Calm During Fireworks Night?
Fireworks and pets do not mix. Fortunately, there are some ways to help your pet cope on fireworks night.
1. Plan Ahead
Find out the dates of local fireworks. Check local newspapers or social media groups. This way, you can guarantee you are home those nights and make a few preparations before the displays start.
2. Keep Your Pet Indoors on Fireworks Night
Walk your dog early before the fireworks begin. Bring your cat in before it gets dark. Make sure you are cosy at home, with doors and windows closed and draw the curtains to reduce the sound levels and block the flashes.
Also, ensure your dog or cat flap is locked shut to prevent your pet from escaping.
3. Make a Safe Den for Your Pet
Some cats and dogs like to retreat to somewhere they can hide for protection. You can help them by making a den. They might already have a crate they use where they feel safe. If not, behind the sofa is an ideal place. Or, a box for your cat. Draping a blanket over the top can help them feel more secure. Place familiar blankets or toys in the den to create a safe haven.
4. Play Some Background Noise
Playing the TV or the radio can provide some much-needed distraction from the noise of the fireworks. Some radio stations even play soft music for pets on fireworks night.
Be careful the volume is not too high, as this might disturb your pet. You can always practice increasing the volume before bonfire night to acclimatise your pet.
You can attempt to get your dog familiar with loud noises before the night. If you try this, try it over time, starting with low noise levels.
5. Have Plenty of Fresh Water for Your Pet
Top your pet’s water bowl before the fireworks displays begin, in case your dog or cat gets stressed and starts to pant and gets thirsty.
6. Check Your Micro-Chipping Details Are Up-to-Date
It is essential to keep your pet’s microchip details up-to-date, and checking before the start of the firework season is a great time to double-check. Statistics show increased reports of lost dogs and cats from the end of October to mid-November.
It is also worth considering a Safer Pet tracker. If your dog or cat runs away, a Safer Pet GPS tracker can help you find your pet quickly. It allows you to see the location of your pet in real-time.
Fireworks night is a worrying time for pet owners. However, with some planning, it is possible to provide your four-legged friend with comfort and security. If you are still in doubt, make an appointment with your vet or an animal behaviourist. They can offer excellent advice and perhaps provide you with something to keep your pet calm.
Paws crossed for a smooth night.