Bonfire Night

Remember Remember Your Pets On The 5th November!

Remember Remember the 5th of November, a nursery rhyme that remembers Guy Fawkes attempt to blow up the king and parliament, every year this is celebrated with bonfire night which for some, is a great social event with a big fire, burning of a scarecrow, roasted marsh mellows and fireworks… lots and lots of fireworks. Great for some but unfortunately dreaded by animal owners, and utterly stressful for those pets who have no idea what on earth is going on.

Here is our guide to keeping your pets safe and stress free this November!

Know the risks

You and your pets might be lucky enough to live in the middle of nowhere, where the risk of fireworks being let off is minimal and you are all relatively unaffected by the whole thing. However, for the majority this is not the case. Keep a close eye on local events, press, notice boards and local radio stations so you are aware of when and where organised displays are taking place. Maintain good communications with neighbours and other local display organisers if there are livestock or horses local, especially youngstock and brood mare’s where stress needs to as minimal as possible, so they can ensure fireworks are set off as far away and in the opposite direction to the animals to reduce the risk of stress and fire.

Maintain routine

Maintaining routine can help minimise stress initially, for example, if your horse lives out 24-7 it might not be a great idea to pull them in and stable them for bonfire night, this would likely stress them out before the fireworks even begin! If your horse is happier living out, keep this routine but assure that all fencing is safe and secure, all gateways are secure, there are no hazardous objects that could cause injury and assure they are with all their usual companions. If you feel more comfortable with your horse stabled during fireworks, plan ahead and introduce them to this routine a few weeks in advance. Stabling during fire work displays it is important to make sure your horse is in a safe and secure box, minimising the risk of injury as much as possible, make sure usual companions and other horses are close for comfort and there is enough food and water to last the night. Music therapy is an established clinical complementary therapy, used for pain management and reducing stress, therefore it might be worth putting some classical music on to help calm your horse as well as drown out the firework noise!

Don’t leave your pets alone!

As tempting as it might be to go and enjoy the fireworks, consider how your pet might feel. Will they be alone? Do they normally suffer quite badly with anxiety during bonfire night? Are they young and have never experienced the noises of fireworks? If so, maybe sit this year out and watch from the window! Being with your pet and remaining relaxed can offer them great comfort. Relaxing stroking/massages should they want this can also reduce stress, but it is important you remain calm and sedate, no loud noises, rough play or sudden movements as this can increase anxiety in your pet. Offer them a comfortable and safe area for them to retreat to, such as their bed or crate where they can go and hide should they feel more comfortable alone. For horses, if you know there is going to be a local display it is worth staying with your horse to assure no serious accidents occur, but it is imperative to maintain your own safety, a startled horse can be incredibly dangerous.

Herbal Calming Aids & Aromatherapy

The use of herbal calming aids can be incredibly useful around this time of year especially for those who suffer particularly bad anxiety around bonfire night. Herbal calming aids come in several forms such as tablets and capsules, powders and liquids. The most commonly used herbal treatment for calming anxiety is Valerian Root, this acts as a mild sedative on the brain and nervous system. With very few side effects this herbal remedy is unlikely to cause your pet any harm during treatment, however should not be used for pregnant or lactating animals. It is recommended to start treating your pet with such herbal therapies on the run up to bonfire night, up to a month prior in some cases, to assure the product has time to take effect and that your pet is already nice and relaxed before the fire works start, however there are products that offer more immediate effects when required. If you have any concerns always consult your veterinarian before administering any herbal treatments, they will be able to best advise dosage, duration and type of herbal medicine that would benefit your pets for best results.

If you do not feel comfortable giving your pets herbal treatments orally, aromatherapy is a safe alternative to offer your pets. There are several essential oils you can offer your pet in liquid or spray forms that can be applied directly onto their bed, blanket, collars, coats or rugs such as valerian root, chamomile, lavender and peppermint oil to name a few. However, there are several popular readymade aromatherapy options on the market which is easier and cheaper than creating your own! Diffusers are also becoming increasingly popular for assisting with anxiety, using essential oils and pheromones to relax your pets, for best results it is recommended to start using aromatherapy a few weeks prior to bonfire night to allow your dog to be as relaxed and content as possible.

If you have any further concerns about how to keep your animals safe and stress free this bonfire night, consult your veterinarian, they will always be able to recommend what is best practice for each animal, we hope you all have a safe and stress-free bonfire night!