With the country going into a second lockdown on November 5 and all public firework displays cancelled, leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, is urging people to consider animal welfare when it comes to holding their own back garden displays.

“Dogs, cats and other animals can all find fireworks extremely frightening and it’s essential owners are given the chance to prepare their pets for nearby displays” says Battersea Brands Hatch’s Canine Behaviour and Training Manager, Janine Pemberthy.

“Fireworks may look very pretty, but many dogs find the flashing lights and loud noises very frightening. At Battersea, we make sure we put measures in place to protect our animals when we know there’s a firework display nearby – if you are going to have a party, let your neighbours know in advance so that they can prepare their animals. There are legal requirements for the use of fireworks too and all displays need to conform to these.

“If you are a pet owner and you’re worried about how your dog or cat will react to the festivities, there are tips that you can use on the night itself to help keep them calm. If you are aware of your dog having negative reactions towards fireworks, ensure you speak to your vet for further advice.”

For more information on Battersea’s policy on fireworks, visit https://www.battersea.org.uk/about-us/our-policies

How you can keep your dog or cat calm this Bonfire Night:

Make sure your pet is microchipped and their details are up to date

Animals can flee when they get scared. If your pet does manage to run away from home while fireworks are going off, you can easily be reunited if they’re microchipped and their chip details are up to date. It’s also a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped.

Avoid letting your pet outdoors when fireworks are likely to go off.

By keeping your pet indoors when fireworks are going off, it prevents them being caught out and from getting scared if they’re outside. Make sure you take your dog for a nice long walk before dark and provide litter trays for your cat.

Create a ‘safe space’ inside your home.

If your pet is scared, they may take comfort in hiding away. If your dog is used to being in a crate, cover it and leave it open with blankets inside, or alternatively a table draped with a blanket can make a great retreat.

For cats, if they normally hide in a specific place, make sure they have access and encourage them to use it with treats and toys. A box lined with blankets and with the opening slightly covered is ideal.

Don’t confine your pet to just one room.

If your dog or cat becomes stressed, they may hurt themselves trying to get out, so allow them easy access to all safe areas of the house.

Keep the TV or radio on.

To reduce the sudden impact of the sound of fireworks, keep the TV or radio on. Playing certain types of music that don’t have a repetitive beat or any sudden loud noises, like classical music or reggae, can be very calming for pets. 

Keep your pet distracted with a treat.

A new toy or treat can be a great way to distract your dog or cat from the noise. For cats, try something with catnip to keep them occupied, and for dogs try a long-lasting chew toy or a Kong packed with tasty treats.

Act normally.

Animals are very perceptive creatures, and if they notice you behaving strangely (like following them around and fussing over them) they’ll sense that something is wrong. If you behave normally, it will show them that the fireworks are nothing to worry about and it may help decrease their anxiety.

Avoid picking up your cat.

If your cat is distressed, avoid picking them up to comfort them, as this could make them more stressed and provoke aggression. Cats also take a long time to calm down, so leave them until morning to settle before interacting with them again.

Keep your curtains closed.

It may not just be the sound of fireworks that stress your pet – the flashes can worry them too. It’s important to make sure your curtains are closed and windows are covered to block out any sudden bursts of light.

If your pet is still stressed by fireworks following this advice, consider talking to your vet.

A vet may be able to provide some medication to help reduce your pet’s anxiety. Bear in mind that any medicinal treatment should always be accompanied by a behaviour management plan and should only be used as a last resort.