November has arrived, and with it the promise of bonfires, crackling fireplaces, cosy nights in, and of course, you better remember, remember the 5th of November. Wrapping up in scarves up to your nose, writing your name with sparklers, and of course, the main event: bold, vivacious and colourful fireworks - sparks of light contrasting with the black of the night sky. With the glorious flashes of light come the promise of another Winter of festivities spent with friends, family and loved ones.
However, for our cherished furry friends, the promise of fireworks and the loud sounds they bring can be somewhat frightening. Chief Superintendent of the SSPCA, Mike Flynn says: “A dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s. The current legal noise limit for a firework is 120 decibels – to put this into perspective, a pneumatic drill is around 100 decibels and people are advised to wear ear protection when exposed to anything above 80 decibels”.
A dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s. It is no wonder then, that animals often react with panic and flee when they hear the commotion outside – often leading to them becoming injured, and even casualties of road traffic accidents. Says Flynn, “We’ve received reports of cats and dogs escaping as they look for a safe place to hide, and sheep getting stuck in fences as they flee displays set off near their field”.
So what can be done to minimise the stress caused to our pets, and surrounding wildlife? We spoke to Katie and Baxter from Dog Friendly Perthshire, to find out their top tips this on keep your pets safe this Bonfire Night.
1. Walk your dog in the early evening, while it's still light. Even though large organised firework displays are advertised, local ones in your neighbourhood may take place which you are not aware.
2. On this note, if you are planning a firework display at home, notify your neighbours about when it will take place, and even pop up a few posters in your street letting people know when you will be setting them off. It will be very appreciated by nearby pet owners.
3. Check out Dog Friendly Perthshire's list of large fireworks displays organised around Perthshire. This is continually updated as they find out more.
4. Make sure your dog/cat's microchips have your up-to-date contact information, as sadly many pets go missing this time of the year as a result of being frightened by the bangs. In addition, please make sure they wear an ID tag - dogs by law are required to have one and they help vastly in reuniting lost pets with their owners when found by a member of the public.
5. Consider buying a Thundershirt if your dog is particularly frightened of fireworks. This is a weighted jacket which creates a gentle, constant pressure designed to soothe dog's anxiety, particularly during fireworks and thunderstorms.
6. It's not just dogs that are scared of fireworks - be mindful of your other pets too. Cats and other pets can be just as easily frightened, so it's a good idea to keep them indoors - this goes for outdoor pets you may have too, such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
7. Create a safe space in your house, where your dogs and/or cats can hide. If you have a crate, cover it with a blanket so your dogs feel safe and cosy. Another option is to cover a kitchen/dining table with a blanket to make a den. Close all of your windows and curtains to drown out the bangs.
8. Distract your pets with soothing music as the fireworks go off. Classic FM radio are even playing a special radio show with calming music for pets to coincide with large fireworks displays across the U.K at 7pm on Tuesday 5th November 2019.
9. Treats can be a good distraction, too - for dogs, you can fill a Kong toy with peanut butter as a fun way to keep them busy with a tasty treat.
Thanks again to Katie and Baxter from Dog Friendly Perthshire for providing us with their top tips this Bonfire Night!
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