Toffee, the Guy, fireworks – and stress. Although Bonfire Night is eagerly anticipated by many people, this time of year is one of the most stressful times for pets and other animals.
Rather than simply shutting them in and ignoring the distress, there are a number of ways to reduce the impact the noise and lights of fireworks may have on family pets.
According to veterinary behaviourist, Huw Stacey, Bonfire Night is the single most stressful day in the year for all pets.
With their highly acute hearing, the whistle and bang of fireworks and the loud noises can be unbearable for many pets.
Even the strange smells, particularly of smoke, which invokes danger to most animals, contribute to a level of tension and fear way beyond their normal experience.
To minimise the impact of Bonfire Night on your pet, Huw recommends a few simple steps.
“In the run up to Bonfire Night consider using a nutritional supplement like zylkene, which has a milk protein peptide that has a soothing effect; in the same way that hot milk can for humans before bed. The great thing about zylkene is that it can do no harm and seems to make a big difference.”
Other ideas Huw recommends include creating a ‘safe house’ by piling up old clothes for your dog or cat under a bed a few days before Bonfire Night.
“Your pet should be encouraged to this area in the days running up to Bonfire Night and when the fireworks actually begin. However, do not force your pet to the safe house – they will try and find their own safe area and will not appreciate your intervention.”
In the safe house area, you can decrease the stress levels of your pet by using pheromonatherapy, an easy and effective way to soothe your pets.
Diffusers, sprays and collars are based on the pheromones emitted by a mother cat or dog, creating a calming and reassuring environment for your pet.
Once the fireworks begin, close your windows and curtains and block off catflaps to keep your pets in the house. #
Stay calm and act naturally around your pet and if you normally have third-party sounds – such as the television or radio – put them on but not too loudly.
Small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and birds also have to be protected from the strangeness of Bonfire Night as they all tend to be easily frightened.
If possible, outdoor hutches or cages should be brought indoors or at least into a garage or shed. If bringing the cage or hutch inside is impossible, try to turn it so it faces a wall.
“Owners may be tempted to bring their dogs with them to bonfire parties, but this should be discouraged very strongly,” Huw said.
“One of the worst things you can do is either tie up your dog or keep him on a lead during firework displays.”