Whoosh! Fizz! Bang! Pop!
Gunpowder, treason and plot!
You may really love Bonfire night,
But it’s likely your doggie will not!
There’s no denying the chill in the air on the last few mornings – a clear sign that Halloween and Bonfire night are definitely on the way. You might be looking forward to the fun and games, but your pet probably isn’t as keen. Many dog and cat owners dread this time of year, as the loud noises and strangers coming to the door can make their pets very distressed. Although Bonfire Night falls on a Saturday this year, the fireworks can go on for weeks (and there may also be fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali in your area on October 30th).
If you have not done so in a while – now’s the time to check your pet’s microchip details are up to date! Should the worst happen and they break free from their lead, or jump the garden gate in fright, you’ll be doing all you can to ensure they are tracked down as quickly as possible.
How can I tell if my pet is scared or stressed?
Not all dogs and cats will display all of the following symptoms, but you can use them as a guide to set against your pet’s normal behaviour – it is up to you to decide whether you need to take action.
- Body language: pinned back ears, low tail, leaning backwards. Cats may hide away, and outdoor cats may stay indoors more
- Lip and nose licking in dogs
- Excessive grooming or shedding (which can lead to fur loss)
- Dogs may ‘stress yawn’ (more intense and more frequent than normal yawns)
- Dogs shake themselves a lot (like they are shaking off after a swim)
- Lots of whining or ‘crying’
- Lower appetite, particularly in pets that are usually good eaters
- Toileting accidents indoors in a previously reliably house-trained pet
- Avoiding interaction. Don’t force interaction if a dog is turning its head away, showing the whites of its eyes or cowering, as the other option for a fearful dog can be aggression.
What can I do to help?
You will never be able to completely shield your pet from scary noises at this time of year, but these tips and products can all help them to stay more calm:
✓ Take your dog on a long walk during the morning or early evening preferably daylight hours, when there is a lower risk of fireworks. Most people prefer to do this anyway during the winter, but it’s sometimes tricky with the nights drawing in.
✓ Mark on your calendar weekends around Bonfire night, Halloween and Diwali when fireworks are most likely to occur.
✓ Settle your cat using Feliway® and Felifriend®. The diffusers and sprays add comforting pheromones to your cat’s environment, to help it to feel calmer. Other calming products for cats, such as calming collars, are also available.
✓ Check your doors and windows are securely shut. Many pets try to bolt if they are frightened or startled, so keeping them safely indoors is a must.
✓ Give cats a safe, quiet place to hide away if they are frightened.
✓ If children are present, try to keep them calm and avoid excessive noises around your pet as this can increase stress levels. Reminding your kids not to approach a fearful animal is a very important lesson!
✓ If your pet is very motivated by food, distraction toys help focus your pet’s attention and may help them forget about the pops and bangs outside.
✓ Provide your pet with as much routine and stability as you can, along with plenty of love and reassurance.
✓ Do consult your vet if you are concerned about your pet’s behaviour, as there may also be underlying medical conditions causing them to behave this way.