Bonfire night celebrations and similar large fireworks displays on New Years Eve can be incredibly scary for all animals including both large and small pets that can be easily spooked by the sudden bangs filling the cold night sky. Although these are obviously exciting annual celebrations it is very important to ensure that you do your bit to help your furry family members through what can be a really scary time for them.
Cats and Dogs
- Try to keep cats and dogs inside when fireworks are being let off and bonfires are lit for their own safety. The loud noises can also cause them to dart suddenly away so make sure that they are all micro-chipped and wearing collars in case they do manage to escape outside.
- Closing the curtains throughout the house can provide some extra sound-proofing and turning the radio or the television on can help to drown out the noises coming from outside the house.
- Letting your cat or dog find their own safe place to hide in the house (like under the bed or behind the sofa) is really important to ensure that they feel as secure as possible.
- Try distracting them with an extra large juicy bone or a new catnip toy.
- Make sure you walk your dog while it is still daylight to ensure no fireworks are set off whilst you are out of the house, and try to shut cats in too before dusk.
- If possible, try to stay at home with them so that they feel you are there to comfort them if they are afraid.
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and Ferrets
- If rabbits, guinea pigs or ferrets are kept in an outdoor cage, partially covering it with a blanket with both help to block some of the sound out and also means they can't see the fireworks which could startle them.
- If possible, move them indoors or move the cage into a shed or garage for the evening.
- Provide them with lots of extra bedding that they can snuggle into and hide in to help them feel safe.
- Hiding some little treats in their bedding bundle or in their cage can help to distract them slightly.
- If you have horses (or indeed any field animals) try to communicate with your neighbours where they are so that fireworks can be set off as far away from them as possible.
- It is important to keep animals in familiar places with their normal routines to help them to feel more secure.
- Horses and animals living in barns or stables can be provided with extra bedding, food and treats to help them to feel safer and also slightly distracted from the noises outside.
- If you know that your horse really reacts badly to fireworks, speaking to your vet for advice is the best option.
Hedgehogs and indeed other small (and larger) wild animals are often seriously harmed or killed every year on bonfire night. If you are having your own display or helping out at a larger, organised event there are a number of things you can do to try and minimise the harm caused to them.
- Don't build bonfires in advance - at earliest the previous day ensuring it is tightly covered with a ground sheet.
- If building a larger bonfire at an event, staking a meter high fence of chicken wire around the base of the bonfire will help to prevent hedgehogs and other small animals from sneaking in.
- Always build your bonfire on clear ground and not on leaf piles or areas littered with natural debris as there may be small animals hiding underneath.
- Don't build your bonfire too close to long, dry grasses as these areas are a favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide in and are also highly flammable.