Guy Fawkes’ is, for many of us, an entertaining night filled with wonderful sights, family fun, and nostalgic activities. For our furry friends, however, strange loud noises can mean the 5th November is even scarier than Halloween.
It’s important your pets have somewhere in the home – preferably in the quietest room – in which they feel safe, in control, and can still be reassured by your presence. Positive reinforcement with this space leading up to November can increase the calming effect it has on your pet.
For a dog, this spot will likely be a bed or comfy piece of furniture and adding more soft furnishings to this area on Bonfire Night can help your pet snuggle up. For cats, this space may be a hiding spot, so be mindful not to coax them out and risk adding more stress to their evening.
For smaller animals, adding additional bedding will make burrowing in easier, to block out scary sounds. Covering outdoor hutches with blankets, ensuring to leave room for air and for your pet to see, can also help if there is a firework display nearby. Bringing the hutch indoors or into a garden shed can also be effective, although will require planning ahead of time so as not to be too sudden a change.
For those with outdoor cats, consider bringing them inside when it gets dark, as the loud bangs and groups of revellers could spook them, causing them to run away and get lost, or hide somewhere and get stuck. If your pet is going to be left to roam outdoors, making sure their microchips are up to date can help for a speedy reunion in case of an incident. Those pets who require walking can be taken out during the day so as not to be restless or needing to go out during typical firework hours.
If your pets are indoors, make sure to keep an eye on them and be there to offer comfort. The most reassuring thing you can do is to be your normal cheery self, as the more regular you keep their surroundings, the less alarming the different sounds will be.
If your pet focusses too much on the disturbances, they may become agitated and anxious. By creating distractions, you can redirect their energy to a more reassuring place. Playing the radio or television – whatever your pet is more familiar hearing – at an increased volume can drown out unusual sounds with ones they are more used to.
Using the arsenal of pet toys at your disposal can also keep them occupied, and they will undoubtedly want the company of their oldest and most favourite toys for protection. Food can also be a comfort and keeping the water bowl full can be paramount for anxious animals who pant a lot.