There are lots of animals that find Bonfire Night scary: cats, horses, wildlife…
But dogs, in particular, do tend to have a really ‘ruff’ time of it.
The RSCPA estimates that around 45% of dogs show ‘signs of fear’ when they hear fireworks.
Fear can often manifest itself as other behavioural problems, such as anxiety, stress or aggression.
With this in mind, a great way to help prepare dogs for Bonfire Night is to use a calming supplement like Itch Calm.
Itch Calm is a medicinal health supplement, containing specially blended ingredients designed to relieve anxiety, promote feel-good hormones and reduce stress.
Itch Calm has a whole heap of well-being benefits for your dog that will work wonders during stressful events like Bonfire Night, such as:
- Valerian Root Extract – traditionally used to ease anxiety
- L-Theanine – an essential amino acid found in tea leaves, used to promote a sense of calm
- Ashwagandha – a source of withanolides to help reduce stress
Thanks to its sprinkle formula, Itch Calm is easy to administer with food. It can be used a few weeks in advance to build up a calm and happy home, or a few days in advance to soothe frayed nerves.
How to Prepare Your Dog for Bonfire Night
Although Itch Calm is a great remedy, there are also some practical tips that you should follow to help keep your dog as chilled as possible.
Start building up behavioural therapy
One of the best resources available to help with Bonfire Night is the Sounds Scary therapy pack.
Sounds Scary noise therapy is recommended by both the RSPCA and DogsTrust, and it’s completely free.
When it comes to sound therapy, the earlier you can get started, the better. Start now and gently build up your dog’s tolerance for loud noises.
Build a den
Choose a quiet place, where your dog feels like they are in control.
Use their own dog crate, or drape a tablecloth over some chairs to create a properly defined area. Check out our guide for more tips on building the perfect pet den here.
Once it’s set up, start training your dog a few days in advance of Bonfire Night to associate their new den with positive things.
You can do this quite easily by leaving toys there, and letting them come and go as they please into the den over a few days. In time, your dog will learn that their den is their safe space.
TOP TIP: Let them have access to their den all the time – even when you’re not home. They will learn that when they are in their den, no harm will come to them.
Keep them comfortable
Once your den is built, you need to make it comfortable and cosy.
Familiarity is best. Line their den with anything you know they’ll find comforting, such as their own toys, bedding and blankets.
For the ultimate comforting experience, the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night is a great time to treat your pet to a new bed.
We love this memory foam bed from luxury petcare brand, Scruffs.
Memory foam beds are suitable for dogs of any age, but they are a fantastic way to provide support for older dogs who suffer from joint problems, often made worse during the colder months.
The reason why we love this dog bed is that most memory foam products (even ones designed for humans) are made up of one, single piece of memory foam.
Scruffs’ range of memory foam beds features an innovative ‘crumb’ memory foam fill, made up of thousands of little pieces of memory foam inside a protective mesh and water-resistant lining.
This ‘crumb fill’ moulds to the shape of your dog, creating much more support than a standard memory foam bed. In turn, this helps to relax stiff joints and muscles, and older dogs to feel supported and comfortable.
How to Keep Your Pet Calm on the Night Itself
- Walk your dog while it’s still daylight
- Avoid letting them out in the garden once night has fallen
- Keep all of the windows shut and the curtains closed
- Turn up the volume on the tv, the radio or your speakers to help mask any noise
- Don’t react to any noises yourself
- Offer comfort if your pet is distressed, but don’t indulge them. Making too much fuss reinforces the idea that there is something to be scared of.
What you can do to make fireworks less frightening for all animals
There are lots of ways that you can easily help to make Bonfire Night a less stressful time for all types of animals.
Only go to organised events
Although organised events are less popular this year, there may still be some COVID-secure events happening near you.
If you can’t attend an event, try to avoid setting off your own fireworks if you live in a busy residential area. More houses mean more pets – and the closer proximity to all the loud noises could be even more unsettling for animals than normal.
Help owners prepare their pets by only letting off fireworks on the traditional dates
Diwali, Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year are the dates when owners know to expect fireworks. By sticking to these dates, you’re giving owners time to prepare their animals and help them cope.
Buy low-noise fireworks
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you ARE hosting a display, try and use fireworks which create less noise.
NEVER set off fireworks near livestock
Frightened animals – especially large ones like horses or cows, can accidentally hurt themselves when startled
Always check bonfires for wildlife before lighting
Unlit bonfires are the perfect cosy habitat for wildlife such as hedgehogs, voles or mice to curl up and hibernate. Give it a check for animals before lighting.
Take your rubbish home with you, and dispose of it properly
Make sure to collect any firework litter after it has cooled down, and dispose of it properly. Firework litter can harm animals if ingested.