While many people may enjoy the celebrations on Bonfire Night, it can be a stressful time for pets and their owners.
Loud bangs caused by firework displays can cause increased levels of stress for dogs and cats, as they have more sensitive hearing than humans. When pets are scared, their fight or flight response is activated but because they are stuck in the house, there is nowhere to hide from the loud sounds.
We have therefore come up with seven tried and tested ways to help your pet sleep more peacefully.
Spend the days beforehand watching movies with loud bangs in
To help desensitise your dog or cat to loud bangs, you should start watching action movies the week before Bonfire Night.
Make sure to pick ones with loud music, explosions and car crashes, but keep the volume relatively low at first. Then slowly build up as the week goes on as this will help your pet build less scary associations with loud noises.
Gradually alter the time of afternoon walkies
If you normally take your dog out around the same time when firework displays are likely to be happening in your local area, you will need to gradually change the time of their afternoon walk.
Dogs have an intuition of when it’s walk time. So, in the days leading up to Bonfire Night, bring it back 10-15 minutes each time. By the time November 5 is here, it should be around an hour earlier.
Make simple changes to better soundproof your home
Simple steps like closing windows and curtains can help your house seem safer to your pet, so start doing this a week before Bonfire Night.
This also gives your pet enough time to get into your new routine. It’s also important to ignore the fireworks yourself, and act as normally as possible as this helps subconsciously calm your pet.
Prepare your home in case your pet enters fight-or-flight mode
Make sure that your four-legged friend has plenty of places to hide, such as under the bed or behind the sofa. However, as some pets will enter fight-or-flight mode once they hear the fireworks, they may become destructive in your home (without meaning to).
So, keep in mind what they can reach – such as nail scissors, tweezers, glasses of water, or medication on bedside tables. This is extra dangerous as lots of pets use their mouth to investigate so these items can get eaten.
Distract your dog (or cat) with the four T’s
Once the night rolls around, make a special effort to keep them distracted. You can do this with the four T’s – tricks, toys, treats and touch.
However, if you do touch your dog, make sure to apply light pressure and move the dog’s skin in tiny circles so they don’t get caught off guard.
If you light a calming candle, make sure it’s pet-friendly
If your pet is stressed, you may be tempted to light a candle to help yourself relax more. However, did you know that not all candles are pet-friendly?
Many studies suggest steering clear of essential oils as they can be dangerous for dogs, as well as candles made from paraffin wax, lead wick or synthetic oil. Instead, pet owners should stick to candles made of soy wax, coconut wax or vegetable-based wax.
Finally, you should also ensure that anything lit is placed high so your pet can’t knock it over should they jump after a loud bang.
Buy an anti-anxiety blanket and wrap your pet like a baby
Dogs are known to find comfort in the gentle pressure of a wrap, much like a crying baby who is soothed by a blanket. However, if you do buy them a blanket, make sure to put it on them before the firework displays, as they may be too scared to let you grab them once the loud bangs start.
Understanding the torment that pets go through when they hear loud bangs can help lessen the ordeal for them. For more tips and advice on how to make your pet feel at home can be found in our How To Make A Pet-Friendly Home Guide.