‘Paws for thought’: Avoid stressed pets this Bonfire season

03 November 2015

  • With Bonfire Night fast approaching, The Co-operative Insurance offers its top tips for keeping pets safe.

With many pets expected to fret as fireworks fizz and bonfires blaze this coming Bonfire Night weekend, experts at The Co-operative Insurance are offering advice to keep pooches playful and cats calm.

Pets can be badly affected by Bonfire Night, with distress being caused by noisy fireworks, the bonfire itself, sparklers, the smell of fire and smoke. These days, it’s not just Bonfire night that causes issues, fireworks often go on for days before and after the fifth of November, and then there’s Christmas, New Year and lots of other days that people like to celebrate.

Research by The Co-operative Insurance has shown that the noises associated with the fireworks celebrations can cause pets to behave erratically. Over a third of pets hide as a reaction to firework noise (34%). Furthermore, the findings have shown that pet owners have witnessed their dog bark continually (27%) and a quarter (25%) have seen pets cower away from noise.

The Co-operative Pet Insurance top tips for keeping your pets safe this Bonfire Night:

  1. Before Bonfire Night, create a safe and comfortable environment for your pet. This could be a "den" area where they will know that they are safe.
  2. Walk your dog during the day in advance of Bonfire Night itself. If you are unable to do so, you should ensure that you walk your dog in a familiar area, which it knows well.
  3. On Bonfire Night keep all pets inside, including those who normally live outside, such as rabbits. However, if your pet is not used to coming indoors, then you may be better ensuring they are tucked up tight in their own environment, and covered over with a blanket so they aren’t scared by flashes. 
  4. Make sure that all doors and windows are securely locked, so that no animals escape outside.
  5. Inside the house shut all curtains, play background music or have the TV on, which will both distract and reassure your pet.
  6. If you have horses, get them in early to their stable, tucked up with enough food to keep them going for the night.
  7. Don’t forget fireworks often start early for some, and finish late for others, so you need to ensure your pet will be looked after for a long evening.

David Hampson, Head of Pet Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said:

“Whilst an evening watching fireworks and standing round the Bonfire can be really enjoyable for humans, unfortunately for pets it can be quite the opposite.

“Loud bangs can make the most resilient of us jump and when it is unexpected this can be much more alarming, especially for animals who have more sensitive hearing than humans in the first place. Even worse, when your pets notice that you are jumping, and behaving in an unusual manner, they can become even more alarmed.

“With Bonfire Night celebrations popular before and after the night itself the likelihood of stressed pets is increased. We’d advise pet owners to keep their pets indoors when celebrations are planned in their local areas to minimise the risk of stressed pets.”

Vet, Matt Brash, says:

“As a vet I see lots of problems amongst pets related to the letting off of fireworks, whether it is at Bonfire night, New Year’s Eve or any other celebration. Dogs especially are very sensitive to the noise that fireworks make, but cats, rabbits, even horses and hamsters can be alarmed and frightened. Of course they don’t understand what is going on, and it is even more confusing when their owners start behaving oddly.

“You can try to train your pets to not be afraid of fireworks at all.  With training, using aids such as a desensitisation CD, for example may sound scary, but you can get them used to the loud bangs and crashes that go with fireworks. This takes time and a lot of patience, but is worth it for them and you.

“It’s too late for this year to try and desensitise your pets, but you could start after this Bonfire night ready for next year."

“One of the more common problems we see on fireworks night is an injured dog, who has spent the evening destroying the furniture in the house, as well as hurting themselves, as they scrabble in panic and fear. It’s not fair on them, so make sure you look after them before you head out for a great evening.

“Finally, if you are having a bonfire, don’t forget to check for hedgehogs in the bonfire before you light it. They might have snuck in there, as somewhere cosy to snooze over winter.”

For more information contact:

Alex Wilson
Press & Media Relations Manager -The Co-operative Group
0161 767 4281/07540 641368

For further information please contact:
Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager – The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 767 4354/ 07770 441 828
Email: jenna.moss@co-operative.coop