Numerous pet owners will be familiar with the helpless feeling of watching your pet struggle through an evening of loud bangs and bright lights. Catrin George, animal well-being specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, has shared her six top tips to help ease the stress leading up to bonfire night.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
In the lead-up to any significant firework-filled evenings, you can help reduce your pet’s anxiety and stress levels by using a calming diffuser or adding natural calming supplements to their food. YuMove Calming Care includes ingredients such as Lemon Balm, L-Tryptophan, GABA and L-Arginine which all work together to help calm your furry friend.
Supplements can be used for pets who experience stress and anxiety generally, but they can also be used ahead of potentially stress-inducing events such as bonfire night, Diwali and New Year’s Eve celebrations. I’d always recommend consulting a veterinary professional before introducing a supplement or diffuser to your pet to check if it is suitable.
An easy and obvious way to safeguard a nervous pet during fireworks is to make sure that your pet is safe at home during these stressful evenings.
Always ensure that all doors, cat flaps, and gates are locked shut. Even if your dog is trained to stay within close proximity, when anxious and scared, pets have a tendency to run away, as they can feel the need to flee from perceived dangers. If you have a dog that suffers with anxiety when fireworks go off, or if they’re still a pup and you’re not sure how they’ll react, it’s also a good idea to walk them nice and early so they are not outside when the noises start.
Reduce the noise
There are a couple of provisional measures to take to help reduce the noise and sudden flashes of fireworks, such as closing all curtains and doors in the house. Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to noise, so when we humans think fireworks are loud, they are even louder to dogs.
To reduce anxiety and fear resulting from unknown loud noises, ensure all windows are closed and, if your dog enjoys spending time in a crate, or your cat has a domed or cave bed, cover this with thick blankets to further reduce sounds. Just make sure that there is still good airflow and fresh water available.
Another noise reduction method is to play some of your pet’s favourite tunes. A 2017 study by the University of Glasgow found that reggae music is one of the best genres for reducing stress in dogs. There are numerous reggae playlists created specifically for dogs available to play on YouTube and Spotify.
Make a cosy corner
Once you’ve ensured your home is a safe space, if your pet doesn’t have a crate or a domed bed, why not create a little sanctuary for them to snuggle up in?
Take a corner of the living room, ideally away from the window, and place their bed, some cosy blankets, a couple of treats and their favourite toys there, so your pet is surrounded by all their favourite home comforts to help them through the evening. Creating a safe space and keeping in close proximity to your pet can help distract them from the noise and keep them feeling reassured.
Create positive memories
Helping your pet come to terms with loud noises, and even feel positively about them, will be a great long-term solution to the problem. Introducing some training can go a long way. When your cat or dog is demonstrating calm and happy behaviour, rewarding them with cuddles and kisses and some treats can eventually help your pet develop a positive association with fireworks, knowing that they have something to look forward to whenever they hear them.
Check the environment
Post firework night, it’s always a good idea to complete a thorough check of the environment as fallen debris may be in the surrounding area, such as your garden or local park.
Lanterns in particular can have a devastating impact on pets, horses, wild animals and livestock. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA)3 urges local authorities, community groups and private individuals celebrating Bonfire Night not to release sky lanterns.
Bonfire night debris can be dangerous to pets, both externally if they stand on it or something lands on them, as well as internally if they try to eat it.
We know these months are particularly difficult for some pet owners, often feeling conflicted between enjoying the fireworks themselves, but hating what it does to their pets. Following our top tips can really help your pet through any particularly loud events, and hopefully help put your mind at ease too!