As many of us know, our pets can be stressed by the sight and sound of fireworks going off on Bonfire Night so the following measures you can take to try to reduce their anxiety. Firstly, consider your pet’s food, some contain additives that can affect behaviour. It may be beneficial to consider an alternative diet.
- Keep your animals inside and spend time with them to soothe their anxiety. Different people let fireworks off at different times throughout this period. It can be difficult to avoid the noise and stress as it is unpredictable. But keeping your dogs and cats in after dark in the run up to Bonfire Night and for a week or so afterwards can help avoid the majority of it.
- Make sure all windows are closed and lock cat flaps so that the pets cannot run away and put themselves in harm’s way. A typical reaction is to flee, so make sure there is somewhere they can hide themselves away if needed, if a dog is crate trained setting the crate up in their favourite place may help. Closing the curtains and keeping the TV or radio on will muffle some of the noise as will double glazing, ensure the windows are closed to achieve the full benefit.
- Don’t leave a scared animal alone if possible but try to ignore fearful behaviour, unless it is putting your pet at risk of harming themselves, to avoid reinforcing it. Using an Adaptil diffuser for a dog which may help them feel calmer through the release of pheromones or a Feliway diffuser for a cat, which helps it in times of stress and stops irrational behaviour. Never punish them for being scared, this could heighten your pet’s insecurity.
- Outdoor pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs may also be scared by fireworks. It will help to make sure they are secure in their hutch with plenty of bedding to hide away in. Covering it with some old carpet could also help muffle the noise and prevent them from seeing flashes that may distress them. You could also consider moving the hutch indoors, into a garage or shed during firework season.
- Cooked porridge (without milk) may help calm your dog. Oats are rich in nutrients such as B Vitamins which are great for supporting mental well-being.