At this time of year, many will celebrate Bonfire night by watching fireworks and going to bonfire displays, and or may put on their own displays at home. However, as fun and exciting as these can be, it might be easy to forget that these loud displays can be utterly terrifying to animals – and dangerous, if care is not taken. If you are participating in fireworks this year, here’s what you can do to keep your furry friends calm and safe.
1. Keep them indoors
If you have animals that usually live outdoors, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, bring them inside for the night so they are not directly exposed to the loud bangs and flashes. It’s also a good idea to put a blanket over their hutch for additional soundproofing, plus some extra bedding so that they can hide if they get scared. If you have cats who are usually allowed free reign outdoors, keep them in for the night too so they aren’t caught out by the noise, and aren’t tempted to run away or hide somewhere where you can’t find them.
2. Close windows and curtains
Be sure to keep your windows closed to minimise noise and also ensure that your pets can’t escape outside if they get spooked. Draw the curtains to block out any flashes, as these may also be alarming to your pets.
3. Create a distraction
Have the TV or radio on as you normally would, perhaps a little bit louder than usual to drown out any noise from outside – the familiar sounds can be a comfort to your pet. With cats or dogs, you could get out their toys and see if they want to play. If they aren’t willing, don’t force it, but keep their toys out where they can see them.
4. Let them hide
Your pet may want to hide when they hear loud, scary noises. Let them! Make sure there is a small dark space accessible to them, like under a bed or table, and leave them until they are ready to come out. You could even build them a cosy den with their favourite blankets and some of their toys, so they are surrounded by familiar smells and comforts.
5. Don’t make a fuss
Try not to react to any firework noises yourself and just go about your business as normal. If your pet is scared, don’t try to force too much attention or handling on them if they don’t want it; should they come to you for comfort, pet them gently and talk to them in soothing tones. It is important not to get frustrated or angry with them either, so if they are running around or barking, remember it is because they are scared – shouting or scolding will only frighten them further.
If you are putting on your own fireworks display, why not consider ‘low noise’ or silent fireworks instead of traditional ones? If you are having a bonfire, be sure to remember this important tip to protect wildlife too..
At this time of year, wildlife such as hedgehogs are looking for warm, cosy places to hibernate. This may well mean a pile of leaves, logs or other debris that is sitting outside; so we must be very careful if we plan to use these materials for a bonfire. Ideally, the bonfire pile should be constructed on the night that it is due to be burnt, but if this is not the case, please do conduct a thorough search of the debris before setting it alight. If possible, moving the pile to a different location is the best way to ensure that no critter is left behind.
If you do find a hedgehog, be sure to put them in a box with a blanket, water and some meaty pet food. Store the box somewhere like a shed or garage to ensure the animals’ safety until the fire is out, so they can be released safely back into your garden.