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Keep your pet calm on Bonfire Night

Keep your pet calm on Bonfire Night

It’s that time of year when lots of us enjoy the oohs and aahs of exploding fireworks, but unfortunately it is not a fun time for our pets.

They can be stressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks exploding over what feels like an increasingly longer period each year and the unpredictability of it all makes it extremely difficult to avoid the stress.  Here are several tips to try and reduce their anxiety:

1. Find out from the council when local displays will be held so that you can make arrangements to help your pets cope.  Ask neighbours to let you know if they will be letting off any fireworks, explaining that you have nervous pets.

2. Exercise your dog earlier that day so that you are back home well before the fireworks start.

3. Keep pets in after dark in the run up to Bonfire Night and for a week or so after.  Make sure all windows are closed and lock cat flaps. Close the curtains to block out flashes of light and keep the TV or radio on to muffle the noise.

4. Try not to make a big fuss of your pet if he is anxious. The more you react by comforting him, the more you are confirming that there is something for him to worry about. Be as relaxed and normal as possible and try distraction instead.  A new toy or chew can help and using this time to play with your pet will help focus his attention on you instead of what is happening outside.

5. Provide a hiding place for your pet – you could use a cardboard box with a comfy bed, a selection of tasty treats and favourite toys inside.   Put it in a quiet corner and cover it with additional blankets draped over the top and sides to keep it dark and muffle the noise.

6. For outdoor pets – bring hutches and cages inside if possible or, if not, turn their enclosures to face the wall.  Put extra bedding in so that your pet can burrow into it.  Cover aviaries, hutches and cages with blankets or carpet to block out the flashes and the noise. 

7. If you’re an action movie fan, pick one with plenty of explosions and loud music to watch on the night to mask the noise outside.

8. Too late for this year but, in readiness for next year, get a CD of fireworks.  Start by playing it at very low levels while doing something your pet likes, gradually increasing the volume over the next few weeks.  This will help to get him used to the sound of fireworks so that, on Bonfire Night, it isn’t too traumatic.

9.  As a last resort, ask your vet for advice. Your vet may suggest using a dog-appeasing pheromone (Adaptil) plug-in or spray in the run-up to Bonfire Night or might even prescribe anti-anxiety medication. You could also try a natural remedy too, such as Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets.

10. Never, ever punish your pet for being scared; after all, it isn’t their fault we are celebrating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot over 400 years ago!

If you have any favourite tried and tested hints, let us know over on our Facebook and Twitter.

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