We all know now that fireworks can cause great distress for pets and wildlife. The RSPCA found that around 45% of dogs exhibit clear signs of fear and distress when they hear fireworks outside and it’s our responsibility as pet owners to help keep our animals calm and happy when events like this occur.
Animals have better hearing than humans, so they can hear sounds and frequencies more clearly and from further away. This means that the sound of fireworks can appear closer and more frightening for them, so they may believe they’re in danger.
There are a number of measures you can take to keep your dogs, cats and small pets as calm as possible while the fireworks are popping outside:
- Keep them inside– Take your dog out for their walk during the day, and if they need to go to the toilet again, go with them into the garden so they feel protected. Cats can use an indoor litter tray.
- Close windows– keep windows, doors, and curtains closed to muffle both the sound and sight of fireworks
- Use other sounds as a distraction – turn up the television (while watching a calm and non-violent programme or film) so that your pet will pay more attention to that noise rather than any nearby bangs. Some owners also play relaxing classical music around their pets to distract them from the fireworks
- Use toys as a distraction– keeping your pets stimulated is a good distraction from fear. Give them free rein of their toy box, or play with them, so they remain focused on fun
- Create a safe space – some pets like to escape to a quiet spot when they feel frightened or threatened, so setting up a safe den in your house will allow them to take refuge if it gets too overwhelming. To start try gathering blankets, bedding, toys and treats, and get your pets used to using their safe space in the days leading up to bonfire night
- Don’t use force– if your pet runs into a hiding place, don’t try to force them out. They’ll probably feel better having more control
- Calming products– you can purchase a number of products online to help reduce your pet’s anxiety – we recommend Pet Remedy
- Act normally– animals pick up on changes in behaviour, so if you start acting nervously, they can mimic your emotions.
Outdoor small animals
Bring them indoors – If you keep your guinea pigs or rabbits outdoors, consider bringing them indoors for bonfire night. Rabbits, in particular, can become very startled to the point of having a heart attack, so keeping them safe during this time is vital.
Cover – if it’s impossible to bring them inside, partially cover their homes with a blanket and give them extra bedding to snuggle down in
Wildlife can also be seriously affected by bonfire night. Hedgehogs are starting to make nests as they get ready to hibernate, and unfortunately are often burnt to death when people light their bonfires. Fireworks cause terror and stress in wild animals and birds -they can die of fright, abandon the places they live or be too afraid to come out of their burrows to feed for days and nights on end.
Please be kind. Here are some ways you can help wildlife on bonfire night:
- Check your bonfire before lighting it to make sure there are no hedgehogs underneath nesting
- If you must have fireworks, buy silent ones, which are conveniently sold in supermarkets
- Best of all, don’t have fireworks in your garden and go to an organised display instead.