Bonfire Night: Study shows over 2 million dogs set to suffer, so how can we help them?

Bonfire Night is coming up fast and while we may love the spectacularly loud booms and crazy light displays, out pets do not. A recent study shows that over 2 million dogs may be traumatised by the experience.

The autumn and winter are filled with the best holidays, from Halloween to New Years there is always a large event going on where we are sure to stuff our faces with huge amounts of food. However, one of these events is not so fun for our pets.

That’s right, the loud and explosive noises from Bonfire Night often cause pets to become traumatised. Some cats and dogs may even end up getting out of the yard and running away.

A recent study conducted by the PSDA Animal Wellbeing (PAW), 22% of UK based dog owners owns a pooch that has an aversion tofireworks, meaning that over 2 million dogs may be at risk of trauma this Bonfire Night.

PSDA, a leading veterinary charity is warning that the loud and disruptive fireworks coupled with the large number of people who adopted a dog over lockdown as well as the 2 milliondogs who are already affected, could leave the UK’s dogs suffering from unnecessary distress. PSDA Vet, Lynne James states:

It's concerning that so many pets are suffering from severe stress and anxiety due to fireworks, and we fear this could be even worse this season.

Over the course of the year, the charity saw a 175% increase in online searches aimed at adopting a dog. This suggests the pandemic has been forcing us to spend more time at home and triggering the idea that we need a furry friend to help us through the days. This means that there could be a wealth of new dog owners about who don’t know the ins and outs of protecting their pups during Bonfire Night. Lynne commented:

A pet's response to fireworks can range from mild to very extreme. Many shake and tremble, freeze with fear and are unable to settle, soil in the house or destroy furniture. They can even cause themselves physical injury if they panic, try to escape or run away. It can be incredibly distressing to witness.

She continued:

With fireworks so readily available these days and organised events likely to be cancelled due to local lockdown restrictions, there's a chance that more people will be doing their own displays this year. This could mean stressful weeks ahead for suffering pets and their owners.
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How can we help?

So, with all this in mind, how can we make our dogs feel more comfortable and safe during Bonfire Night? PSDA has some top tips to ensure your pups has the best experience.

1. Start preparing early

If you know your dog has been triggered by loud noises in the past, visit your vet for advice as soon as possible.

2. Microchipping

Ensure that your dogis microchipped. This way, if they do end up having a bad time and running away then it will be much easier to get them back.

3. Walk your dog early

On November 5th, make sure you walk your dog nice and early so they can get in their exercise before the fireworks start.

4. Stay inside

Make sure that your pets stay inside during Bonfire Night and make sure you securely close your windows, doors (both dog doors and human) as well as the curtains. Also, if you have any outdoor pets such as rabbits or guinea pigs, bring them inside and make sure you cover their cages with a blanket.

5. Give your pet a cosy space

Make sure your pet has a cosy space where they can snuggle up. This may help to soothe them during any stressful times.

6. Play soothing music

Soothing music may also be just the thing to help your pets unwind during Bonfire Night. Whether that means some classical music or white noise is up to you and your pet. However, if you need some suggestions, Spotify can make a special playlist just for your pet.

7. Calming scents

If music isn’t your pet’s thing or if you just want to add to the ambience, you can buy a plug-in pheromone diffuser to help your pets relax.

8. Provide comfort

If your pet depends on your attention and cuddles to unwind then make sure they get that attention. However, this is a short term solution and if you have a particularly anxious pup then it may be worth taking them to a vet or animal behaviourist to help find some more long term solutions.

9. Don’t punish your pets

Punishing your pets is can be a rather traumatic experience for them, especially on Bonfire Night. Lynne added:

Pets have extremely sensitive hearing, so what seems loud to us can be even worse for our pets. Plus they don't understand what's causing the loud bangs and flashes, adding to their stress. If your pet has a rough time this Bonfire Night then get help now to prepare them in time for New Year.

So, if you acquired a dog this year or even if you’ve been a long time pet owner, make sure you take care of your animals during Bonfire Night. You might just be saving them a world of stress.

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