5th November. Remember remember our pets
Prepare for fireworks
5th November is a wonderful time of the year for children and adults as they watch the fireworks light up the night sky in a fantastic display of color. Unfortunately it is a time of year that many pet owners dread. The following is a guide to keeping your pet safe at bonfire night, and to reduce stress as much as possible.
During firework season, it is best to keep your cat indoors in the evening. It is not a good idea to allow them out in the dark, as they may get so frightened they will run off. Around 5pm in the evening, try to get your cat to stay indoors for the remainder of the night. If your cat is used to being out, you may find it helpful to buy a litter tray for the duration of the fireworks. Keep curtains drawn and have the television or stereo on to combat some of the noise from outside. My cat Foxy is so terrified that he trembles at the sound of the rockets and bangers that seem to be never ending at this time of the year. We try to keep him in the same room as us and give him plenty of fuss and attention.
For dogs, the advice that is generally given out is much more detailed than for cats. There are many ways that you can reduce stress for your dog, and this should be planned around 2 or 3 weeks before bonfire night.
- Make your dog feel secure and safe in their home - keep curtains drawn and have a distraction noise, e.g. television or radio.
- Give your dog plenty of attention.
- If your dog normally fears fireworks and gets anxious, it may be worth speaking to your vet a few weeks beforehand.
- Try to distract your dog with toys and/or treats.
- Keep talking to your dog, they need to feel secure, and need the calmness of your voice.
- If your dog is extremely anxious and distressed, it may be worth considering dog appeasement pheromone which can be bought from veterinary surgeries in consultation with your vet. It can make a fearful dog feel reassured, and comes as a plug in diffuser in the home, or a collar, which must be worn at all times and approximately 2 weeks before the event.
- Sedatives prescribed by vet - the vet may feel that your dog requires a sedative which will make the dog feel sleepy and tends to block out the memory of the frightening event taking place whilst they are sedated.
Dogs seem to have a particularly miserable time around the 5th November. If you can possibly minimize the stress, your pet will be much happier and will get over the ordeal quickly.
Rabbits and guinea pigs
Many people keep rabbits and guinea pigs outside in pens. During the fireworks, they should be brought indoors as they do not deal with stress very well. I have a large hall and keep my rabbits indoors for around 2 weeks surrounding the bonfire parties and displays which go on. I cover their cage and leave a radio on. I also pay them lots of attention and spend time with them during this time. Normally in severe winter, I transfer them to the outdoor shed
Budgies, parrots and cockatkiels
Domestic birds should be kept in cages during the fireworks. If they are allowed to fly freely, they may panic and try to find an escape route, often flying into walls and injuring themselves. Put the cage in a room with some background noise and cover the cage with a blanket or sheet which tends to keep them calm. My sister-in-law keeps her Cockatiel caged and places it in a large darkened cupboard under the stairs during the night with a radio on, which seems to have worked for the past 3 years. These tips could also be used for other small animals such as hamsters, mice and rats.
Don't forget to remember pets
Remember that pets will get very frightened and can get ill with the stress of bonfire night. If you want to go out and see fireworks, it is best to try and go along to an organised display. Setting fireworks off in your own back yard is too close a proximity if you don't want to scare them any more that they already will be.