Helping your pet stay calm and safe
Many pets become anxious and frightened when fireworks are going off.
Some become extremely distressed. Unlike us, they do not understand why there are loud bangs and flashes outside.
If you own a puppy or kitten, there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of your pet growing up scared of fireworks. If you own an adult pet that is already scared of fireworks, there are measures you can take to help them cope.
If puppies and kittens are raised in an environment where they are not exposed to normal household sounds (e.g. in a quiet building outside), they are more likely to be scared of noises such as fireworks as adults. During their first couple of months (the socialisation period) puppies and kittens should be able to hear a range of everyday sounds, e.g. washing machine, vacuum cleaner, television and other unexpected noises. A good way of letting them hear a range of sounds is to use a socialisation CD (e.g. 'Sounds Sociable', www.soundtherapy4pets.com). Good socialisation CDs include the sound of fireworks, so that when real fireworks are heard your pet is more likely to be calm and unafraid.
Preparing for the firework season
Many dogs and cats will try to hide when they hear fireworks.
This helps them to cope with their fear. You can help your pet by making sure they have a hiding place where they feel safe.
- Create a comforting ‘den’. This could be inside a wardrobe or cupboard, or behind a sofa. Pad it with old pillows and blankets to help soundproof it.
- In the weeks leading up to firework season, let your pet have access to this den at all times and, for dogs in particular, offer healthy treats and praise when your dog uses it, this will build a positive association with this space.
- A pheromone plug-in placed nearby can also help (available from our reception). These pheromones are calming scents that dogs and cats can smell but we can’t. You must start using it a couple of weeks before 5 November to maximise the benefit. It should be sited in the room in which your pet chooses to rest.
- Your pet may already have a preferred hiding place. That is fine; they should not be forced out if this is already the place where they feel most relaxed.
- Ensure dogs and cats are microchipped so that if they escape from the house, scared and confused, there is more chance you will be reunited.
- If you have concerns about your pet’s phobia you should speak to us for help and guidance. Noise phobias in pets are treatable with the right professional help.
What to do on the night
Cats and dogs
- Take your dog for a walk well before fireworks are likely to begin.
- Keep doors, windows and cat flaps closed.
- Draw the curtains.
- Play music with a repetitive beat at a medium volume to help mask the sounds.
- Although it’s tempting, do not comfort or reassure your pets – they will feel that you are anxious too and their fear will be rewarded and encouraged.
- Never punish your pets – it is not their fault that they are scared and it will add to their anxiety.
- Let cats hide where they like – do not try to tempt them out.
- If cats are scared, do not pick up or restrain them as cats prefer to control how they cope.
Small pets and wildlife
- Bringing hutches inside is the best option but if this is not possible, partly cover hutches and other outside cages with blankets so that they have some sound-proofing
- Make sure hutches and cages contain hiding places and secure areas where they can go to feel safe
- Give plenty of bedding – this will help keep noise out and provide a hiding place.
- If you are having your own bonfire ensure it is nowhere near any pets.
- Always check underneath a bonfire before lighting as hedgehogs may be hibernating there.