Pets and fireworks simply do not mix. Bonfire night is a fun time for us roasting marshmallows and going “ooooh” as fireworks paint the sky can actually be a pet’s idea of hell.
Every year many pets are lost or injure themselves through the fear of fireworks. Whether you have a dog, cat, horse or small pet like a rabbit their natural instincts will make them run if they are afraid and they have no idea where they are running to, they just try to get away.
Plan now for how you will protect your animals on Bonfire Night this 5th November.
Give your dog extra exercise during the day so they are really tired when the fireworks start.
Once you hear the first firework don’t take your dog out. If they need to go to the toilet take them out quickly but don’t let them off the lead and ensure they have a tag on their collar if they are not microchipped just in case they do get away from you.
Ensure doors and windows are secured, close curtains tightly and switch on the telly quite loudly to drown out the bangs of fireworks. The telly can’t cover the noise of fireworks but may make it less startling.
If you are going out and leaving your dog in the house alone then build him/her a little den behind furniture or under a bench. Place their favourite blanket or toy and some treats in the den. Leave the radio or telly and lights on while you are out, this will help minimise the lights and noise from outside.
If your dog goes to hide then it’s best to leave them where they are and cover them with a blanket or towel. As caring owners we sometimes try to tempt them out so we can “protect” them, this only makes us feel better, so please leave your dog where they are hiding unless the area is dangerous.
Bring your cat indoors before the fireworks start but don’t lock them in a strange closed place, this will add to their stress.
Provide a litter tray, even if they are used to being outdoors they will use a litter tray if they need to go to the toilet.
Provide somewhere for them to hide. If they don’t usually have an enclosed box then get a cardboard box and cut a hole in the side. Put a towel or blanket inside and place the box somewhere the cat feels comfortable (ie in a room that the cat is used to being in). They may not use it but it is a place to hide if they need to.
Cats like to be cosy so ensure the room is warm and close the curtains tightly. Put on the telly or radio but make sure it’s a soothing sound.
Please don’t lock a cat in a travel box or cage, they need to able to run and find somewhere they feel secure hiding.
If your cat hides behind the sofa, fridge or under the bed then unless they are in danger please leave them there.
If your cat is not microchipped then try to put a collar with tag on now, let them get used to the collar before bonfire night. This is simply a safety precaution in case the cat manages to get out and run away.
Bonfire night is particularly stressful for horses, each year many horses injure themselves out of sheer fright.
Not only do you have to worry about your horses welbeing this bonfire night but please don’t forget to be prepared for emergency fire fighting in stable yards.
There is plenty of advice for horse owners on the Horse Handler forum. It’s free to join and you can discuss your personal situation with the experts there.
Small pets, such as rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs, who live outside in a hutch can’t get away from the loud noise and bright flashing lights of fireworks.
If possible move their hutch into a garage, shed or utility room for the night. Close all doors and windows securely, trying to block out as much light as possible.
Where the hutch must remain outside then cover it in an old thick blanket, this will block out a lot of the light and sound.
Whether indoors or outdoors ensure your pets have plenty of extra bedding material to hide in and feel more secure.
Please remember wildlife if you build a bonfire. Many people collect wood for a bonfire many days or weeks before bonfire night and this creates an ideal winter shelter for wildlife, such as hedgehogs, frogs, etc, to crawl into.
Unfortunately when the bonfire is lit hibernating wildlife, such as hedgehogs, simply sleep through the lighting of the fire or use their natural defence mechanism (to curl into a ball in the case of hedgehogs) and they die in the fire.
If possible move the firewood to a new location just before lighting the fire or if this isn’t possible use a torch and have a good look at the bottom of the woodpile before lighting your fire.
Write down your vets number, just in case, and put it next to the phone.
If you see an animal in need of help please call the RSPCA’s cruelty and advice line on