With just a few weeks to go until fireworks season kicks off with Bonfire Night on 5th November, the RSPCA is urging pet owners to start preparing their animals.

With just a matter of weeks until fireworks season begins, the RSPCA shares tips on preparing your animals and helping them on Bonfire Night

Around 62% of dogs, 55% of horses and 54% of cats in the UK* show signs of anxiety when they hear fireworks. Loud bangs and bright flashes of light are also known to cause fear and distress to lots of other animals including small furries, livestock and wildlife.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “Firework phobia is treatable and we recommend seeking advice from your vet or from a clinical animal behaviourist if your pet finds Bonfire Night frightening.

“While it may take months or even years for treatment plans to take effect for some pets with more severe phobias; for others, there are simple steps you can take at home in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night to help them.”

Whatever pet you have, planning ahead can help them find fireworks season less scary so why not start putting in some groundwork now?

  • Provide your dog or cat with a safe haven - Create a doggy den in a quiet area of the house and make it a special safe place by placing tasty treats and favourite toys inside. Make sure your cats always have access to plenty of places around the house to hide.
  • Pheromone diffusers - Speak to your vet about using a calming collar or diffuser which disperses calming pheromones which may help your dog or cat feel more secure.
  • Introduce changes to your pet’s routine slowly - It’s sensible to keep your horse in a familiar environment, following their normal routine with their usual companions. If you’re planning to bring your horse or livestock into a stable or barn overnight during fireworks, start to introduce the change of routine now to get them used to being in. We recommend walking dogs during daylight during fireworks season so if this is different to your normal routine, begin to alter the time of your pet’s walk to get them gradually used to it.
  • Provide extra bedding - Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals who live outside should have extra bedding to burrow into or you can cover their housing with a blanket for extra sound-proofing. Begin to introduce this now.
  • Bringing pets inside - If you’re planning to bring them indoors to better protect them then start to make this change ahead of fireworks night to get them used to the new sights, smells and sounds inside.
  • Speak to neighbours - If you want to plan for dates of local displays then check local press and websites and speak to your neighbours and local councils/schools etc to find out dates ahead of time so you can plan now to help your pet. Ask organisers to site fireworks well away from your horse and aimed in the opposite direction.
  • Soundproof your house - Simple steps like closing windows and curtains can help your house seem safer to your pet so begin doing this now if it’s different to normal to get your pet used to it.
  • Start desensitising them to sounds - Teach your pet to deal with the sounds by using training CDs. We recommend Sounds Scary which comes with guidance on how to use it. You can also muffle the sound of fireworks dogs and other pets by using calming music like classical playlists - start to introduce this now. This is a long-term approach so may be worth starting now ahead of next year.
  • Get help - If your pet has a severe fireworks fear then speak to your vet or clinical animal behaviourist now to come up with a plan or to discuss whether there are any treatment options to help them.

The RSPCA fears this fireworks season could be the worst for animals for decades as lockdown cancels public events and Government restrictions prompt more people to have DIY fireworks displays at home.

Over the last four years, the animal welfare charity has received 1,543 calls about fireworks - and it fears this year could be the worse if people go ahead with more, smaller displays from their gardens.

For more information about the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign and to support our calls for more controls over fireworks displays send a letter to your council here. And to support the FAB Firework Abatement UK, please sign the petition online.