45% of pets are scared of fireworks
- Creating a safe haven can help minimise the stress
- Praise your pets for being calm but don’t punish erratic behaviour
- Consider pet insurance so that if your pet does come to any harm, they will be able to get the best possible treatment
While it is a fun time of year for many, Bonfire Night is not such a joyous occasion for our pets. According to the RSPCA, 45% of animals show signs of fear when they hear fireworks; many then run off and get lost or seriously injured. In fact, each year vets are faced with emergency cases where animals have been involved in serious traffic accidents after being spooked and running into the road.
Simon Stanney, General Insurance Director at SunLife has three dogs himself, and says there are things you can do to prepare your pets and keep them calm and safe while firework displays are going on nearby.
“Not all pets will be scared of fireworks, but if your dog is pacing, panting, trembling or remaining close to you, it is probably finding it quite traumatic. Other signs include excessive drooling, lots of barking and even incontinence.
“Cats tend to cower and hide behind furniture or on top of cupboards. They are also likely to try and run away. They may also do their business in the house and refuse to eat.
“If you have noticed these types of behaviour in your pet when they have been around fireworks in the past, it is vital that you take steps to ensure they feel safe and secure this year.”
Simon’s top 10 tips for keeping your pets safe this Bonfire Night
- “Make sure you take your dog for a walk well in advance of any fireworks being set off and keep him on a lead in case any early displays start - you do not want him to bolt off scared.”
- “All dogs should be microchipped now (in April it became a legal requirement) so make sure your pet is microchipped with your current contact details as this will increase the chance of getting your pet back if they run off and get lost.”
- “Do not take your pet to a firework display – keep them indoors with windows and doors securely closed while fireworks are being set off, but make sure they are able to move freely around the house so they don’t feel trapped.”
- “Invest in pheromone diffusers, sprays (for cats) or collars (for dogs). These release a synthetic version of calming pheromones and, ideally, should be used a week or so before fireworks displays start to take place.”
- “You may want to get a CD with fireworks noise on it, this can be played a week or so before so they get used to the sound. On the night, it is a good idea to have some background noise such as the TV, radio or other music and start to play it before the fireworks start. Try and soundproof the house by drawing curtains.”
- “Create a ‘safe haven’ for your pet – somewhere they can go and settle if they become distressed. It could be their usual bed or a little den - put their favourite toys and blankets in there and try and encourage your pet to get used to it a few weeks before firework night. Make sure your pet has access to his ‘safe haven’ while the fireworks are going off and do not interfere or impose yourself on them when they are in there.”
- “It is a good idea to create a safe haven for cats too – this may be in a quiet corner or under some furniture - but let your cat hide wherever they want to and do not try and tempt them out as they will become more stressed.”
- “Don’t leave your pets alone – your presence will reassure them. If you think comforting them will help them relax, then do so, but do not force it on them as this will make their fears worse.”
- “Praise your pets for being calm and do not shout at them or punish them if they have been destructive or messy because this will just upset them further.”
- “With smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, bring their hutches inside if you can. If that’s not possible, try and soundproof the hutch by covering it in blankets to limit the noise.”
Simon concludes: “You may not think that fireworks are a big deal, but pets have much more sensitive hearing than people, and while we enjoy the loud bangs, it is a different story for our furry friends, so it is important to take these tips into consideration.
“You should also consider getting pet insurance so that if your pet does get injured as a result of their erratic behaviour or because they have run off, they will be able to get the best possible treatment.”