to keep your pets safe on Bonfire Night. Given the national lockdown in England, there won’t be any of the usual organised events BUT you can be sure that many people will be having their own fireworks displays at home.
Not sure about the rest of the UK, but here in the north east fireworks have been going off every night for almost a week now. There aren’t a lot of dogs who like to hear the noisy bangs but many are extremely frightened – some to the extent that they need sedatives from the vet.
It’s important to remember that dogs have amazing hearing – so even a distant bang can cause them distress. Given the lockdown, it may be they will now also have to contend with fireworks in a garden right next door for the first time – so it’s important to do all you can to minimise their anxiety.
Hopefully everyone knows that pets (dogs and cats) should be kept indoors on Bonfire Night. Make sure they get their walk much earlier in the day (some people let off fireworks even before it’s quite dark). If your dog is used to walking offlead, then it is wise to keep them on a lead on Bonfire Night unless you know for certain that they are bombproof.
And if they usually eat at tea-time, then it’s worth bringing forward their meal time just in case they are too anxious to eat once the fireworks start.
Before the fireworks start, choose the room least likely to be closest to any nearby fireworks. Close curtains and blinds and try to muffle the noise with music. One of the CountryMun dogs is terrified by fireworks and always tries to find somewhere to hide. This year, we’re going to make a doggy den for her in the hope it helps her to feel a bit safer. All you need is a table and some coverings plus some of the dog’s special items. (There’s a great Dogs Trust video HERE which shows how simple it is.)
Many dogs also some to be less anxious when wearing a snug fitting garment. Our dog has a Kong thunder-shirt. It doesn’t mean she is okay with the noises, but we have found it definitely helps to calm her.
Top Top: we’ve heard in the past from a few owners of our neoprene dog wetsuit coat that this also works well to reduce anxiety if it is a snug fit. You could also try a human t-shirt if you have one which would fit snug on the dog’s body.
Remember that pets pick up on your anxiety – so if they can tell that you are stressed, it will add to their fear. Make sure you don’t raise your voice or show anger with a dog who is reacting to fireworks. This will only make them worry more. There’s scary stuff outside and now even their best friend is being mean to them! Talk in reassuring tones and if they want to hide in a corner or underneath furniture, don’t force them to come out.
Finally, the RSPCA currently has a petition calling for stricter control over fireworks and displays. You can visit its website HERE to support the campaign. You can also get more advice and tips with information on how to make a more pet-friendly fireworks display.
(If your dog is extremely nervous or elderly, it is always worth contacting your vet for advice).