As the excitement (or dread!) of Bonfire Night is looming, pet owners are already looking for remedies and treatments that will help reduce stress and anxiety during this period. We have been in search of better understanding of why this stress occurs and what we can do to manage it.

If we think about it, fireworks are very loud  with sudden flashes. If we were visiting from another planet, I am sure that we would find it very scary too. Like us, pets have a natural instinct to fight or flight (with the latter most common) when they are scared. However, they are ‘trapped’ either in the house or on a lead etc. Looking at it from this perspective helps us to understand our pets’ behaviour.

We have been gathering tips and tricks that we can all put in place to make this time of year the best it possibly can be. Of course there are no quick fixes, but we have had great feedback about these simple changes that everyone can do.

  • Space – Make a ‘den’ so that your pet can go and hide. This could simply be a dog crate covered with dark sheets/ blankets, with a comfy bed or cushions inside. The door could be left open so they can go in whenever they want. Don’t wait until the fireworks – have it there all the time so they get used to to it and use it regularly.
  • Relax – Dogs are especially observant, and as they spend the majority of their time with you, any change in your behaviour will be noticed. It is therefore important that we remain calm. I know how hard this can be when your best friend is looking anxious, however  if you are worried, they will see this and it will further increase their anxiety.
  • Cancel it out – Listen to your favourite music or watch a nice film and turn the volume a little louder than usual. This will help to cancel out the sound of the fireworks. Also, make sure that the curtains are closed to help keep out the flashes.
  • Make it secure – Make sure that there is a closed door between your pet and the outside. Be mindful of where your dog or cat is if you open an outside door – make sure that there is at least one closed door between you to stop them from running away.
  • ID – As this is the time where the most pets go missing, make sure that you have the correct information on the pet tag/ collar and that the microchip details are up to date. You can check your pets microchip details by contacting the database where the details are stored – one of the UK’s largest  is PetLog. Give them a call with your chip number or contact your vet to check where your details are stored.
  • Keep them secure – If you do go out, make sure that your dog is on a lead.  It is a good idea to use one at this time of year, even if this is not what you usually do. It is better to be safe than sorry.  If you can, once your cat is inside, lock the cat-flap to keep them in during the evening. Fireworks can scare them and they may become disorientated,

 

Remember that, although we have discussed the above in the fireworks context, these tips should work as effectively during other periods of potential change such as parties at Christmas or trick or treating. The more organised you are beforehand, the more chance you will have of relaxing and enjoying the celebrations!