Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Brands Hatch in the Kent countryside is encouraging pet owners to plan ahead of Bonfire Night on 5 November to keep their four-legged friends safe.

Bonfire Night can be a stressful ordeal for animals who are not used to the sudden bangs and flashes of light, which will also mean an uncomfortably long night for their owners as well.

Battersea Brands Hatch has come up with a few helpful tips and advice:

  • Create a ‘safe place’ for your dog or cat to go to if they feel anxious at any point. It’s good to start using this technique a few days before to get them used to the safe place. Dogs generally like being underneath things, so a table with a blanket draped over, or access to an open but covered crate. Cats like to be high up.
  • A long-lasting chew or toy can be a good distraction for your pet, so make sure these are available in the safe place once they decide to settle in for the night.
  • It’s not just the sudden noise that causes distress, the lights of the fireworks can affect your pet, so make sure the curtains are closed in the house. It might also be helpful to have the TV or radio on at a comfortable level for your pet to cover up the sounds.
  • Don’t react to the noises outside, or act differently around your pet – they will know something is up and start to worry, pets are very perceptive!
  • Escape-proof your house! Animals will often try to hide if they are scared, so make sure any unsuitable or dangerous spots in your home are blocked off. This also includes any cat flaps and being careful when opening and closing front or back doors. Cats and dogs can make a dash for it in the height of their fear, so make sure your pets have ID tags and are microchipped (checking your details are up to date), so all parties can be reunited quickly.

As well as the stress of fireworks there has been reported cases of animal cruelty, where youths have mindlessly put other people’s pets in danger using them ‘for fun’. Last month, an innocent cat was found in Sittingbourne with a firework attached to its body, resulting in the poor cat having its tail amputated. The owner was so fearful it may happen again, they gave the cat to the local rescue centre for its own safety.

Michelle Bevan, Rehoming and Welfare Manager at Battersea Brands Hatch, said: “It is a major shame that we have to advise pet owners about staying vigilant in their local area concerning the safety of their pets. We would advise to never leave your dog unattended in potentially stressful times or situations as a general rule, and always have someone you trust stay with the dog. With cats, it’s a bit more difficult, but I would make sure your cats are indoors before the night sets in, and just keep a look out for any areas your pet may wander out to, and report any suspicious behaviour in your local neighbourhood.”