With Bonfire Night fast approaching, chances are you’ll be making plans for which fireworks to cozy up to or who to invite over for a few sparklers and loud bangs in the garden.
While Guy Fawkes brings people together every year on November 5th, it can also be a time of distress for our four-legged friends.
So here’s what you need to know to help celebrate the occasion in a way that keeps the UK’s beloved dogs and cats safe.
Read more: Why can normal sounds stress your dog?
How does Bonfire Night affect dogs and cats?
Last year the RSPCA received 11,785 reports of animals in distress due to fireworks displays.
And this autumn, a new survey by the charity shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of pet owners surveyed said their pets suffered during the fireworks season.
In addition to disturbing them, the displays can cause great fear in dogs and cats due to the fear of loud noises and flashes of light, and can even cause fatal injuries to all types of animals (they can injure themselves on fences, farm equipment or fittings) and fittings in their apartments. ) if things are not done safely.
But the good news is that 69% of owners have taken at least one measure to rest or prepare their animals this time of year.
Playing relaxing music (36%) was the most common (29%) of taking the pet to another location.
RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “While it is sad to see so many animals needlessly struggling at this time of year, it is positive that owners are taking steps to prepare their animals.”
“According to the survey, many RSPCA centers have sound systems in their kennels and play classical music to the dogs to keep them calm.”
Read more: Three quarters of British dogs are depressed – how to improve their mood?
How to take care of your dog and cat’s health during Bonfire Night
While Kennedy acknowledges that there is a widespread problem of fireworks negatively affecting our pets, she adds, “There are some important steps you can take to minimize the impact on your pets, such as creating a quiet environment and a safe place to go.”
He urges: “We would really encourage people planning fireworks displays to be aware of animals around you and to be polite enough to let neighbors know what to expect.”
Resting and preparing your dog and cat for what’s to come is the first step you can take to protect their well-being on bonfire night. If you’re not sure what that means, here’s the charity’s top advice.
Play relaxing music to mask the sound of fireworks
You can use classical music playlists at home to drown out the sounds of fireworks for dogs and cats.
“A number of studies have shown that auditory stimulation – soothing sounds and playing music – can affect the physiology and behavior of dogs in rehoming and rescue environments, and it is suggested that, at least in the short term, classical music may be beneficial in helping to reduce stress for dogs in kennels,” RSPCA dog welfare specialist and behaviourist Esme Wheeler says.
RSPCA Mount Noddy Animal Center in West Sussex is one such center that has seen first-hand the benefits of playing classical music to the pets in their care, including cats.
For example, Sampson, a 10-year-old tabby cat brought to Mount Noddy after his owner died, struggled with his environment and became frustrated. After playing soothing music to him during the day, he is now happier, resting, sleeping, playing and doing activities.
Read more: According to science, cats really like sitting in boxes (even illusory ones).
Provide your dog or cat with a safe haven
Create a dog den in a quiet part of the house and make it special by placing delicious treats and their favorite toys inside. Make sure your cats always have access to plenty of space around the house to hide and curl up.
Try pheromone diffusers
A pheromone diffuser that mimics calming scents that help calm pets can be a wise idea if you want to help them feel more secure (it can also be worn as a collar). But talk to your vet first.
Make gradual changes to your pet’s routine
So Bonfire Night isn’t such a shock, with the RSPCA still recommending daytime dog walking during the season. That way, if it’s different from your normal routine, you can gradually change their time outside to coincide with less fireworks noises.
Still, if you’re planning on bringing your pets indoors for bonfire night when they’re usually outside (no doubt your cat is free to roam as she pleases), start making this change now to help them feel more comfortable. .
Talk to neighbors and organizers
Check local press and websites and talk to your neighbors and local councils/schools to find out the dates of screenings in advance so you can plan ahead to help your animal. This will also help with ongoing or future celebrations.
Soundproof your home
Simple adjustments like closing windows and curtains can make a world of difference in making your home feel safer and your pet feel safer. Again, start doing it now to get used to them.
Sensitize them to sounds
Using special training CDs, you can teach your pet to deal with sounds that often cause alarm. The RSPCA recommends Scary Sounds, which comes with instructions on how to use it.
Like using soothing music to mask the sound of fireworks, both take some getting used to and are long-term approaches that may be worth continuing into next year.
If your pet has a severe fear of fireworks, talk to your vet now to plan or discuss any treatment options to help them. If necessary, they can also refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviorist.
Read more: Dog language decoded: What your dog is trying to tell you
How to keep your dog and cat safe on bonfire night
Aside from looking out for your pet’s well-being, there are steps you can take to reduce the chance that fireworks will actually scare or injure them in the first place.
To prevent exposure to your pets, or horses and livestock, the RSPCA says you can make screens less scary and safer by following these measures:
Go to an advertised, organized fireworks event
As mentioned, this will allow owners to prepare their animals prior to the event if necessary. In general, going to organized events reduces the total number of fireworks that disturb our pets and keeps them away from residential backyards.
Only set off fireworks on traditional celebration dates
By only allowing fireworks on Bonfire Night itself (or Diwali, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, etc.), this will prevent pet owners (and pets, of course) from being amazed by displays on days when they’re not expecting it.
If you buy fireworks, use only low-noise ones and let your neighbors know in advance to reduce the fear and stress they may cause to animals.
Remove fireworks debris and debris after they have cooled
It remains safe to throw fireworks as they can harm any roaming animals. With this in mind, avoid setting off fireworks in fields or other villages where fallen debris will not be able to be removed.
Except to protect dogs and cats, never set off fireworks near livestock (horses can especially injure themselves); do not set off fireworks near wildlife areas and do not light any bonfires as close as possible to lighting time (make sure hedgehogs and other creatures are not sleeping on the pile when lit).
Watch: A dog behavior expert reveals tips for keeping pets safe on Bonfire Night
The RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign is also calling on UK governments to follow Scotland’s lead and introduce legislation to restrict the sale of fireworks, introduce firework control zones, introduce a licensing system for sales and reduce the maximum permitted noise level.
For a reminder of the current regulations, visit the GOV.UK website on fireworks: the law.
Contact us to help the RSPCA continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals in desperate need. website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181 or check this page for support to report animal cruelty or suffering 8am to 8pm before calling 0300 1234 999.