Saturday, 1 November 2014

Guy Fawkes Night Special: Top 10 Tips for animal safety

We hope everyone had a spooktacular Halloween last night!  Hot on the heels of Halloween, we have our next big evening in the UK - Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th November.  As the 5th falls right in the middle of the week, this year we can typically expect fireworks to be going off now for the next 9-10 days, with big displays at the weekends, and local people setting them off and as when!  In fact, it is the 1st November and the first ones have just started going off as I write this.   And unlike the 4th July (a similarly massive firework night for our American friends), Guy Fawkes Night also typically includes bonfires.

I am an unusual dog in that I spent last years Guy Fawkes Night flat on my back, snoring my head off while Hooman watched on amused (I'm just faking it in the Sepia Saturday photo below!), but not all my furry friends are so lucky.  Here are our top tips for keeping pets safe and stress free over this period:

Guy Fawkes bonfire fireworks night animal pet safety top tips spaniels tail

  • First of all, keep pets indoors at times when fireworks seem likely to be set off - make sure your pets also have their collars and ID on, in case the worse should happen and they escape.  
  • Don't forget your outdoor pets (such as guinea pigs and rabbits) if you have them. If you can move them to a garage or shed, then do so - otherwise provide some extra bedding for them to burrow into, and cover their hutches to protect them from flashing lights and to muffle the sounds a little - please ensure that you do leave a small gap for ventilation though! 
  • For indoor pets, particularly those that are prone to stress, make sure they have a quiet, safe and dark area they can retreat to - for example, a covered crate or a bed tucked away somewhere.  If they want to hide, then leave them to do so - coaxing them out may scare them more.
  • For nervous dogs and cats, DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) sprays such as Adaptil (or the feline equivalent Feliway) can help calm them down - these can come in a plug-in form, or as I had as a pup when I hated being left alone in my crate, a spray form which can be sprayed over blankets 10 minutes before use.  You can even get aromatherapy sprays for your pets made with lavender, known already in hoomans for its relaxing and calming effect, such as this Chill-Out spray for dogs which we were recently sent a sample of and smells gorgeous! 
  • Close all windows, draw the curtains and shut doors to muffle sound as much as possible, and put the TV or a radio on to provide a familiar sound
  • Common sense - but don't walk your dog(s) while fireworks are being let off, or take them anywhere near a fireworks display.  We would advise walking, toiletting and feeding them all before fireworks begin, as it could put them off their food.
  • Provide pets with toys, treats and games while fireworks are going off, as it will distract them from the noise.  We would recommend a big bone or chew, as the act of chewing has been found to be a great outlet for stress and anxiety in dogs.
  • Too late for this year, but if your pet has a serious aversion to fireworks, it would be worth thinking about sound therapy - you can download sounds off the internet (or buy on a CD) and start playing them quietly, gradually increasing volume, until they are comfortable with that particular sound.  Take a look at the SoundsTherapy4Pets website where you can download different sounds through iTunes.
  • If your pet does react to the noise (and they can react in a myriad of ways including making noise, hiding or pacing around), don't reward their reaction with lots of attention, and conversely don't reprimand them for fearful reaction, both of which could intensify their fear. Stay with them throughout, and be calm and relaxed.  If you are on edge, your pet will be on edge too. 
  • Lastly, don't forget the wildlife - if you are having your own Guy Fawkes Night party with a bonfire, remember that hedgehogs and other small critters are looking for places to hibernate, so build your bonfire as close as possible to being lit, and one fab tip we heard was to put your building materials just next to where you will light it, and re-stack it just before lighting.  

We hope you enjoy the fireworks wherever you are, and we wish your pets a happy and stress-free Guy Fawkes time!  Please share any more top tips you have in the comments below.


  1. Great tips - I have especially found that medication or Adaptil is quite appropriate in certain situations where you're not completely sure how stressed out your animal will become. It's always better to be on the safe side in my opinion. I know it's no fun to be stressed out and anxious and it's no different for our pets.

  2. Hi there!

    Thanks for joining Ruckus and Earl & Ethel for the Sepia Saturday blog hop!

    Lots of Woofs from Earl, Ethel and I at Earl's World!

  3. We were just thinking about the fireworks when they started again. Roll on next week when the are over. Have a serene and easy Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. We usually turn on the TV when there are loud fireworks going on (and thunder storms too.) Joey dog is frightened by them. Hope you have a peaceful time sleeping through it again!