How to keep your pet calm this Bonfire Night

With Halloween and Bonfire Night rapidly approaching, we're likely to start hearing the familiar boom of fireworks


While we love to see the pretty displays, the loud bangs and flashing lights can be significantly less popular with our pets.


As 5th November rapidly approaches, Jenny Philp, the managing director and senior practicing vet at Vet Kitchen, is offering her tips to ensure your pet stays as calm and happy as possible.


Sound therapy

Okay, it's too late to do for Bonfire Night, but this will be something to bear in mind for New Year’s Eve.

Begin some sound therapy a couple of months prior to the event - it can be a great way to desensitise your pet to the different noises. This involves playing the sounds of firework, thunder or other noises that they could end up fearful of. To make them feel safe and reassured, play the sounds quietly at first, for short periods of time, whilst making sure they feel safe and reassured. Combine this with positive things such as treats and toys, before starting to increase the volume and the length of time they are played for.


Create a safe haven

If your pet becomes anxious, try creating a make-shift den or hiding place. This can involve crates or tables with blankets draped over them to muffle noise - the light can also be very useful. Again, you should set up this den a week or two in advance, before encouraging your dog by leaving the treats out and putting their favourite toys inside.


Visit your vet

If your pet is particularly fearful, it could be worth visiting your vet – they could prescribe medications to help them deal with stressful situations.

However, as with all the medications, there can be side-effects, so it is important that discuss your pet's needs a couple of weeks in advance.

There will be some medication and supplements that you need to start in advance of bonfire night, while others may need trialling on a day when there are no fireworks to check for side-effects.


Pay a visit to your local pet shop

You should be able to find products such as anxiety t-shirt or wraps, pheromone and valerian diffusers at your local pet shops or veterinary practices.

The t-shirts and wraps help to calm dogs by applying gentle, constant pressure, in effect, the same as a gentle hug or swaddling a baby. The pheromones help kittens and puppies feel safe and secure (and have the benefit of being odourless to humans). There are alternative diffusers that are available, but use natural Valerian plant oil to calm pets.


Preparation is key

Take your dog for a walk before it gets dark and the fireworks start. You should get your cat inside and try to make sure any outdoor animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are protected, by covering the sheds and hutches with old carpets and tarpaulin - this muffles the light and sound. You can also try closing the curtains and turning the TV up to mask the sounds once you have your pets indoors.


Alternatively, you could always try to distract them by playing games with them or teach them a new trick prior to using toys or treats.


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