How to keep pets safe on bonfire night

Posted by Argos. November 1st 2013.

Seeing a loved one in distress is always unpleasant, and when that loved one is a pet it can be just as hard.

Bonfire night is a confusing and scary time for animals, with whizzes, pops and bangs coming from all directions. Follow our top tips for keeping your pets calm and safe this bonfire night:

Bonfire night or fireworks can cause some dogs to hide

1. Walk in the light
Avoid taking your pets outside at night surrounding November 5th. Where possible, walk them or let them out in the daylight when there will be no fireworks going off.

2. Keep the doors and windows shut
Once it gets dark, make sure your animals are safely locked indoors. Double check doors and windows are firmly shut so that claws and paws don’t open them in a panic.

3. Provide distractions

Once the bangs begin, try to distract your pets; put some music or the television on to mask the sounds or get a toy out to play with them. Don’t force them to play if they don’t feel like it though.

4. Make a safe place
Setting up a safe zone before bonfire night means your pets have a place they feel comfortable retreating to when they feel anxious. Choose a quiet area and make positive associations with it. Put toys and treats in there so they know this is a good place for them to hide.

5. Don’t punish them
Remember how confusing this must be for them; you can’t explain what the noise is all about so you can’t expect them to be calm.

Don’t punish their reactions; just leave them to it and help where you can.

If your dog is not a fan of bonfire night, they may try to hide away from the noise

6. Let them hide
Once they are hiding, or in their safe place, leave them be. Don’t try to coax them out as this can add to their stress. Once they feel more relaxed they will come out in their own time.

7. Don’t pick up a distressed pet

It’s natural that you will want to soothe or comfort your pets but if you pick them up this is just an added confusion. Cats in particular hate to be restrained when they are scared as this takes away their control.

8. Remember the little guys
If you have rabbits, guinea pigs or other small animals in the garden, don’t forget that they will be just as affected as cats and dogs. Place a cover over their home to soundproof it, leaving a small gap so they can still see out. Make sure they have extra bedding to burrow into when scared.

9. Microchip
If your pet does manage to run away, having them microchipped is a sensible precaution. They may sneak out or dart through an open door when somebody walks in, so being able to find them again is the most important thing.

10. Stay calm
Fear and stress can rub off on animals, so if you stay calm this could be the first step in keeping them relaxed too. Don’t react to the fireworks and ignore any strange behaviour. If you make a fuss, this will reinforce their fear so they are more likely to repeat it.

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