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A More Bearable Bonfire Night

Pet owners can find 5 November a troubling time – while the dates and locations of public firework displays around Hogmanay and the summer festival season are generally known, Bonfire Night is much more unpredictable. One moment, there can be complete silence, then there’s a faint ‘pop’ in the distance. Then suddenly, the neighbours are setting off a full arsenal of fireworks. Add to this the sudden flurry of excitement – especially from children – and it’s easy to see how this annual event can bring so much anxiety to our pets.

It’s hardly surprising that, according to PDSA’s 2018 PAW Report, 40% of UK pet owners reveal their dog is afraid of fireworks, while 34% of cat owners say the same. In addition, a whopping 83% of veterinary professionals agree that fireworks should be regulated to allow use only for licensed events, or on certain dates.

While debates around fireworks continue, including suggestions such as their restriction to use at public displays only, or the move to use silent fireworks, pet owners must currently still take precautions on Bonfire Night.

Below, I’ve listed a few simple tips to help your pets cope:

Brush the problem away – giving your pet a bath or a groom during the evening may provide a welcome distraction from the noise outside.

Johann Sebastian Bark – turn on some music or a movie – studies have shown that some genres, including reggae and classical, can help to relax dogs.

Can you smell that? – some find that products utilising scent as a calming mechanism, such as Feliway, work to great effect around fireworks season.

Gold stars for good behaviour – if your dog or cat remains calm when there are clearly audible fireworks, rewarding their behaviour may provide extra incentive to keep calm.

Hide and (don’t) seek – some pets cope by hiding, so provide a comfortable place in a dark, quiet corner with their favourite toys and blankets. An item of your own clothing might help too, as the scent should bring them some comfort.

Set a canine/kitty curfew –  be sure to bring cats inside early and walk your dog before it gets dark out, but keep them on the lead, you never know if a stray firework may be set off before sunset!

Pass the chips – fireworks are one of the leading causes of pets running away from home, so be certain your pet is microchipped!

For further advice or information, if your pet has gone missing, or if you’ve come across a lost dog or cat, phone Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on 0131 669 5331.

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