Pets and fireworks on Bonfire Night 2019: how to reduce stress for your cat, dog or rabbit

With the beginning of firework season just around the corner, remember that, while they can be great entertainment for humans, displays are a huge source of stress for animals across the UK.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 12:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 1:41 pm

Here are steps you can take to make sure that your furry friends are happy and healthy this Bonfire Night.

Indicators of stress

Pets have their own way of letting you know that they’re stressed. If they’re showing any of these behaviours, it means that they could be finding firework season difficult to cope with.

Make sure your furry friends don't get frightened by fireworks this November (Photo: Shutterstock)

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These symptoms include:

- Shaking

- Excessive barking

- Hiding behind furniture

- Going to the toilet inside the house

- Pacing and panting

- Refusing to eat

- Destructive behaviour (chewing the furniture etc)

Rabbits might also stamp their hind feet or stay completely motionless in order to communicate their stress.

Firework phobia is a treatable condition, according to the RSPCA - seek advice from your vet, who may refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviourist.

Keeping dogs and cats calm

With dogs, you’ll want to take them for a walk during the day before any firework festivities take place.

For cats, you should ensure that you have some hiding spaces in your home that they can take shelter in - they can become much more stressed if they’re left outside during fireworks.

Draw the curtains and close all the windows and doors (block off cat flaps) to stop them from escaping and also to keep outside noise to a minimum.

Charity Blue Cross says “if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loudly) in order to block out some of the noise of the fireworks”.

You should also stay calm and act normally during the fireworks in order to comfort your pets, and also give them lots of praise for good behaviour.

“It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, let them do that instead,” Blue Cross advises.

You could even create a makeshift ‘den’ for your pet to take refuge in - you can make this with some of your old clothes and situate it under your bed, as your pet may like to hide there when the fireworks start.

Tips for small pets

Small pets should also be given extra care during fireworks season as well - rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils mice, ferrets and birds can all feel the stressful effects of fireworks.

Blue Cross advises:

- Hutches, cages and enclosures should, where possible, be brought inside the house into a quiet room, or into the garage or a shed. If you can’t bring your pet’s hutch inside, the enclosure should be turned around so that it faces a wall or fence rather than an open garden

- Provide your pet with extra bedding so that it can burrow

- Cover any aviaries or hutches with thick blankets or duvets in order to block out the sight of fireworks and also dampen the sound - but be sure there is enough ventilation