Remember animals this bonfire night

With bonfire night fast approaching the RSPCA is urging revellers to spare a thought for animals and for owners to plan ahead if they have a nervous pet.

Although the number of fireworks-related calls received by the RSPCA decreased from 2010 (621) last year we still received 525 calls. Almost 300 of these were received in November alone. This year we have received 58 calls so far and this is set to increase as we enter bonfire season.

James Yeates, the RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, said: “The vast majority of calls are about animals which are scared of fireworks, so we’re urging those holding displays to think about giving people in their area plenty of notice of when they will be. We’re also urging people to go to organised displays and to avoid putting on displays near animals.”

An estimated 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks – meaning up to three million dogs could be affected this bonfire night2.

Firework phobia is a treatable condition for many animals, and the RSPCA wants to spread the message that pet owners do not have to watch their canine companions suffer every year.

This year, Pets at Home is holding fireworks awareness events in store on Saturday and Sunday October to provide advice on how to keep pets calm during the fireworks season.

Scott Jefferson, marketing director at Pets at Home, said: “It’s really important to prepare our pets before bonfire night, as many of them can become scared or anxious due to the loud noises. Our colleagues in store will be on hand to help advise customers on the simple things they can do at home to keep their pet safe and at ease. They can also talk customers through the range of calming products available in our stores.”

A few years ago in Derby an RSPCA inspector was on a night off during the fireworks season and saw a black Labrador run into a petrol station forecourt after being scared by fireworks. He had run over the busy main road, but had thankfully been avoided by the cars and the inspector managed to return him to his grateful owner.

It’s not only dogs and cats that are affected, but those animals which are kept outside. In one tragic incident last year, a pony died after desperately trying to escape the field he was kept in after a firework display was held just a few hundred yards away without his owner knowing.

Wildlife can also be affected – anyone holding bonfires should check them before lighting, as hedgehogs love to nest amongst the wood and material.

James Yeates added: “Unfortunately every year the bonfire season seems to get longer and longer with fireworks being set off for several weeks around 5th November.

“If you can get along to one of the many big events rather than setting fireworks off in residential gardens where there are bound to be pets nearby, that really helps pet owners to plan as they know exactly when those events are and don’t have to worry in the build up and aftermath of bonfire night.

“Please do check your bonfires before you light them as they’re ideal hiding places for wild animals and there really is the potential to cause death or serious injury if you don’t take a couple of minutes to disturb the firewood before lighting.

“If you’re a pet owner you can also do your bit by looking into some of the therapy tools and products out there such as the Sounds Scary! CD which helps to acclimatise pets to the noises and products containing pheromones to help calm them.

“Also, keep animals inside and turn up your radio or TV to reduce the sound of the outside noises.”