If your pet gets anxious when the loud bangs and bright lights of fireworks start, they're not alone.
But there's plenty you can do to help them through it and the earlier you start preparing, the better.
Watch The Dog Coach, Vicky Carne's video guide on how to help your dogs feel calm on bonfire night.
Hints and tips to keep pets safe and happy around fireworks
- Have a cosy place for your pet to curl up and relax.
- Behave normally. If you get frustrated or annoyed by the noise your pet WILL pick up on this and that could make them more worried.
- Distract your pet from the noise by having the TV or radio on.
- Take your dog for a walk well before it gets dark, so you're less likely to encounter fireworks while you're outdoors.
- Keep your pet on a lead at all times, just in case a surprise loud bang startles them. You don't want them bolting and getting lost.
- When you get home, shut all the curtains so that sudden flashes of light don't scare your lovely pet.
- Reward good behaviour with treats or playtime but don't reward signs of fear as this can make the problem last longer.
- If your cat normally goes potty outside in the garden, put a litter tray in the house for them. Our expert vet team says: "If they're too scared to go outside, they may hang on to their urine which can lead to bladder issues such as cystitis, a painful inflammation of the bladder."
Our experts also suggest that you work on desensitisation. This is likely to be too late for the upcoming fireworks, but perhaps something you can do in preparation for next year.
It involves slowly introducing them to the noises that scare them. You can buy desensitisation CDs or download tracks.
Only play the desensitisation noises for short periods while they're relaxed and only reward them when they aren't showing signs of fear.
- Take your dog to a firework display, even if they seems fine. Remember, their hearing is better than ours, so the loud bangs will be even worse for them!
- Leave your pet alone if they're scared of fireworks.It could make their fears worse.
- Tell your pet off. They don’t understand what the noises are, so don’t make them more anxious than they already are, no matter how erratic their behaviour seems to you.
- Don’t be tempted to use essential oils. Although some products marketed for animals may contain essential oils, these would have been made in a safe way. Applying pure essential oils directly to your pets coat or using a diffuser, especially when choosing highly concentrated oils, can be dangerous, especially to cats.
Products to help calm your pet
We asked our vet experts, Dr Sophie Bell and qualified vet nurse Sarah James for some recommendations for products that can help alleviate pets' fear.
These work by applying constant pressure to your pet’s body. This type of pressure has been shown to release calming hormones such as oxytocin or endorphins, a bit like swaddling a baby. Thunder shirts can be used for both dogs and cats and come in a range of sizes.
Sileo gel is prescription-only, so ask your vet. This gel is applied to your dog’s gums or cheek and calms them by reducing specific reactions in the nervous system. It's only to be used for dogs with fear aversions so it's best for extremely nervous dogs. But your vet will advise whether it's an option for your dog.
These include Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats. Pheremones can be bought as a plug-in, spray or collar. Receptors for pheromones are located between your pet's nose and mouth and these products can produce a calming effect.
This can be used for both dogs and cats. It's a natural supplement, with great results seen within one hour after administration. It can be sprinkled on your pet's food, so it's easy to give.
Brands like Pet Remedy are valerian based and can help with keeping your pet calm.
Some dogs will really benefit from using one of these. They are fitted over the ears and can dull or block out sounds.