Calming pets on Bonfire Night

Vets4Pets who is offering advice for pet-owners regarding fireworks. (s)
Vets4Pets who is offering advice for pet-owners regarding fireworks. (s)

Vets4Pets is offering advice to residents whose pets fall among the 80% of cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs with phobias of fireworks.

The organisation is encouraging pet-owners to look out for signs of distress, such as panting, drooling and excessive barking in dogs, and for subtle changes in behaviour like pricked ears, social withdrawal or attempts at hiding. Classic signs also include a change in appetite.

Dr Huw Stacey, the director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: "Firework noise can reach up to 150 decibels, which is as loud as a jet engine. Cats, dogs and other pets’ hearing is a lot more sensitive than humans, so it’s not surprising pets find this distressing, as they have no concept of celebrations and are often left feeling confused by the situation."

Stacey and her colleagues are advising residents to bring all pets indoors, including rabbits and other small animals, where possible, during the bonfire season and to close all windows, curtains and blinds to reduce levels of noise and flashing light. If this is not possible, place a thick blanket over cages and hutches.

Once indoors, offer plenty of toys for distraction and create spaces for smaller animals to hide. It's vital to keep all windows and doors locked as cats often panic and bolt.

Try to remain calm in response to fireworks as a seemingly frightened reaction can distress your pet, offer him or her plenty of attention and turn on the TV or radio to drown out the noise outside.

Finally, ensure your pet is micro-chipped: reports of lost or missing pets tend to rise during Bonfire Night, as pets often run away blindly to escape the noise and flashing light.

Dr Stacey added: “We understand families want to enjoy Bonfire Night, but want to encourage pet-owners to follow some simple steps to help the whole household have a happy and stress-free time.”

For further information on keeping pets calm during this time, please visit please visit www.vets4pets.com/fireworks