Eight easy ways to keep your pet calm and safe during fireworks season – and how to know if they’re scared
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Bonfire night is upon us, taking place tomorrow, Sunday, November 5, and with it come fireworks - which are fun and exciting for people, but often frightening and threatening for our furry friends.
While dogs may show clear signs of distress, from whining and barking to not eating, it can be more difficult to identify the signs in cats. Some will hide their fear of fireworks, but others will show much more obvious signs such as dilated pupils, hissing or low grumbling and withdrawal. They’re also likely to arch their back and crouch, pin their ears back and make slow low movements.
Scottish Government project Safer Scotland estimates that 41 per cent of dogs are afraid of fireworks. To help keep your cats and dogs calm and safe over these noisy nights ahead, experts from global pet brand PetSafe provided their eight top tips.
Create a safe space
One of the best ways to prepare your pet for fireworks is to make them a quiet space away from loud bangs and bright lights, where they can feel safe and secure. Use their crate or choose a quiet room and add blankets and bedding to help muffle noises and place some of their favourite toys there also.
Distract them with familiar sounds
Distract your pet from the sound of fireworks by playing familiar noises – the radio, music or a TV programme. Again, when they remain calm and settled, reward them with healthy treats and positive attention. Puzzle toys are another good way to distract them.
Keep them indoors when it’s dark
Walk and toilet your dog when it’s light and feed cats earlier, so they know to come home before it goes dark. And don’t forget the litter trays.
Keep windows and doors shut
Dampen the sound of fireworks by keeping windows, doors and pet doors locked shut. This also means that frightened pets won’t be able to escape if they’re spooked. Also check for any holes or gaps in fence panels that could provide escape routes.
Close the curtains
Closing the curtains is another really easy and effective way to reduce the sound of the fireworks and dim bright flashes.
Make sure they’re wearing collars
In case your cat or dog bolts with fear, make sure they’re wearing collars and tags – and that their microchip details are up to date - so that you can be quickly reunited.
Keep them hydrated
Dogs can pant more when anxious, which can cause dehydration. So, make sure you keep their water bowl topped up. For reluctant drinkers, pet fountains are a great way to encourage consumption.
To help make your pet feel safe and secure during displays, act normal and reassure them. Pets will quickly pick up on their owners’ stress, so try to remain calm and send positive signals to them. Don’t try to tempt them out of any hiding places - making a fuss will give them good reason to panic - so stay relaxed.
PetSafe’s Rob Steele said: “Whilst we expect fireworks around at this time of year, loud bangs and bright flashes can be very startling for cats and dogs. Their acute hearing makes them more sensitive to sounds, and they’re also likely to be more perceptive to the smell than their owners.
“As with all wild animals, cats and dogs associate loud noises with danger and will be stressed and fearful. But by following these eight simple steps, we’ll be doing a great deal to help our pets get through firework season with as little stress as possible – for everyone.”