Bonfire night and the days surrounding it can be a very distressing time for our furry, feathered and scaly friends, especially if there are fireworks being let off in your neighbourhood. Here at PMP, we know that an unhappy pet makes for an unhappy home, so we’ve put together some top tips from the RSPCA and Battersea Cats and Dogs Home to ensure the safety of all creatures great and small this firework night.
Avoid letting your pet outside at prime firework time
Take your dog out for long walk nice and early to ensure that they are tucked up at home long before dark. If you can, feed them early too, so they can do their business on the walk and then get let out for a final toilet break after 11pm (or 12am on bonfire night) when fireworks are legally required to finish. It might be worth introducing this routine a few days early so the sudden change does not disorientate your pet further.
Keep your cat inside and provide them with a litter tray to do their business in so they are not caught outside when fireworks are being let off.
Bert and Tallulah
Where possible, bring outdoor animals indoors
Consider bringing your little critter’s hutch or aviary inside over firework night so they do not get spooked by the bright lights and loud bangs that will seem heightened for small animals that live outside. It is worth bringing them in a few days early so they can adapt to their surroundings.
If you cannot bring them inside, turn its enclosure around so it faces the wall instead of the open garden. Cover with blankets to muffle the sound but make sure to leave enough ventilation.
TV and radio
Turn up the TV or radio or play music to drown out any sudden loud bangs. However, be mindful of whacking up the volume too high and covering one distressing sound with another – your pet definitely will not thank you for drowning out the fireworks with heavy metal music! According to Battersea cats and dogs’ home, classical music generally helps to calm dogs down, so if your dog is really distressed it might be worth forgoing your usual TV viewing schedule and putting some calming Beethoven on.
Draw the curtains to cover up windows and patio doors
It is not just the sound that distresses our furry friends – the sudden bursts of light can also unsettle them. Make sure all curtains are drawn and windows are covered to minimise the bright flashing lights coming into the house.
For smaller animals, partially cover their hutch, cage, or aviary with blankets to block out the lights and sounds but leave an uncovered area so that they can look out.
Provide safe hiding spaces
Create some safe spaces for your dogs and cats so that they can hide themselves away from the bright lights and loud bangs.
Cats feel safer the higher up they go, so a top shelf or cupboard might be the ideal place for a safe haven with blankets, toys and treats, assuming it is completely secure. A cardboard box lined with blankets with opening slightly covered should do the trick. Alternatively, if your cat has a favourite spot in the house, try to coax them in there with toys and treats.
For your canine friends, place ‘doggy dens’ around the house. These can include a table with a blanket draped over it or a covered crate with blankets inside. It is important that you use positive reinforcement to ensure that your pet associates the space with happy experiences, so add some of their favourite toys, a long-lasting chew or a kong containing their favourite treat and do not pester them while they are in there.
Do not confine your pets to one room or shut them in their ‘safe space’ as that could also cause distress, and they might injure themselves by trying to get out. They may just want to stay close to you like any normal evening, and that is okay, too.
Provide bedding that smaller animals can burrow in
A box full of hay with holes for easy access can provide your little critters with somewhere to burrow into. This will make them feel cosy and safe, and give them a place to hide if they get spooked.
Even though you’re taking all these precautions to keep your pet happy, it is important that you do not let them catch on to anything unusual! Play with them as you normally would but do not follow them around the house or act nervous in front of them. Cats and dogs are very intuitive creatures and are likely to catch on if you’re acting different.
Make sure the house and garden is secure
Escape-proof your house and garden as best you can in case your cat or dog bolts at a sudden firework. If possible, restrict your pet’s access to any outside doors so they cannot run out when anyone is leaving or entering, and make sure everyone in the house knows that they need to be quick when opening and closing outside doors. Remember that cats can wriggle into some very tight spots, so make sure all ‘weak spots’ in your garden are secure in the event that your pet does manage to get outside.
If you’re worried about your animals bolting from the garden this firework night, contact The Property Maintenance People and we will put you in touch with a PMP Approved contractor who can fix any flimsy fences or weak spots to keep your garden safe and secure.
In the meantime, send us some pictures of your furry friends in their safe spaces!