Keeping Pets Comfortable on Bonfire Night – Three Top Tips
Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and…lots of terrified pets.
Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, is in a lot of ways, a super weird British tradition. We celebrate a failed attempt to blow up Parliament over four hundred years ago, is that not a bit creepy? And little kids wheeling around a massive effigy that they are going to sacrificially burn? Sounds a bit Wicker Man to me.
But, to be fair, I do get mixed up in the excitement of the night. It’s usually biting cold, so getting bundled up in hats and gloves and trekking down to your nearest firework display, eating marshmallows, treacle toffee and drinking hot chocolate whilst watching the night sky with your family or your pals is pretty nostalgic.
The one thing that’s definitely NOT a good thing is owning pets on Bonfire Night. While a toddler or even a baby can semi understand what’s happening, or at least by comforted by you, that’s not always the case for a pet. It can be a really frightening night (or week, in my neck of the woods) for cats, dogs or feathered friends.
However, there are ways to help the hours pass a little calmer for your pets.
Like us, animals experience anxiety and fear, and on a night where there are a lot of loud bangs, people about and bright lights appearing in the sky, this can be totally overwhelming for them.
But, like us, there are ways that they can potentially be soothed, or calmed.
Here are a few suggestions to help your petrified pets feel a little safer on the fifth.
An easy way to think of the stress your pet will feel is to think of it as sensory overload. A way to combat this is to help them focus on one thing at a time.
One way of doing this is by offering food. Now I don’t mean keeping their bowl overflowing (although I’m sure they’d thank you for it!). I mean use small amounts of treats to keep them occupied, and less likely to focus on the noise of the fireworks. For example, dogs might benefit from having a tough treat to chew through, or cats might like using a mobile cat feeder to keep them busy.
Another way is keeping their space as dark and quiet as possible. Setting up a comfortable space in the corner of the room, where your dog can curl up in safety, is a good option when it gets a bit too much. Last year, we draped a big blanket over our coffee table and placed a few cushions and his favourite teddies underneath, so that Sykes could snuggle up away from the sights and sounds outside the window.
Cats, too, love a dark quiet space, and a crinkle bag could be really helpful when the displays get started.
Aromatherapy is another way to keep things tranquil in your home. Burning candles, or using plugins, is comforting for the whole house, and a gentle flicker of a candle is especially comforting on a dark Winter’s Night. Just be careful to burn fragrances that aren’t harmful to dogs, as they can be sensitive to a lot of different essential oils. If you’re worried about this, there are dog sprays that are totally safe and have a wonderful calming effect on them.
Lastly, remember our it's not just our pets we need to be mindful of. Check your bonfires to make sure there are no hedgehogs looking to hibernate, make sure there are no nesting birds where you are setting up your firework displays, I'm sure I wouldn't want a Catherine Wheel zipping right under my bed!
Enjoy Bonfire Night, everyone, and wishing all pets a very calm and happy evening. Sleep tight!