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How to keep your pet calm on Bonfire Night

Dogs and fireworks don’t mix well. If you find that your pet gets scared on Bonfire Night, here’s what to do. 

Dogs and fireworks don’t mix well. If you find that your pet gets scared on Bonfire Night, here’s what to do. 

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
4 min read
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Why is my dog scared of fireworks?

Dogs have much better hearing than us humans, which means that noises that seem loud to us can be completely overwhelming for them. This might explain why our four-legged friends sometimes become upset when the fireworks start flying.

And, while we love the bright lights and flashes of colour, for dogs it can feel like sensory overload. Remember that your dog doesn’t have a clue what fireworks are and why they’re happening. Your home could be under attack, for all they know.  

Even dogs who’ve heard fireworks before can become incredibly stressed each time Bonfire Night rolls around. 

Why aren’t all dogs scared of Bonfire Night?

Fortunately, some dogs aren’t bothered by fireworks. They may have heard them early on in life, so they’re no longer fazed by the noise. And older dogs can also learn to cope better, if they come to associate fireworks with a positive experience. 

How to calm a dog on Bonfire Night

You can prepare your dog for Bonfire Night using sound therapy. There are free downloadable guides and sounds, designed to help dogs acclimatise to noise, which you can access via the Dogs Trust website.

Here are a few more steps you can take to help keep your dog happy on Bonfire Night:  

  •  Take them for a long walk earlier in the day, so they’re tired by the time the evening firework displays starts. 
  •  Remain calm yourself, so your dog doesn’t mistake your excitement for something to worry about.
  •  Keep your dog inside when fireworks are going off.
  •  Give your dog lots of affection for staying calm. Don’t, however, reward them with attention for barking. This may encourage them to bark more in future.  
  • Give your dog a chew or toy to keep them distracted. 

What to do with your dog on Bonfire Night

To keep your pet as calm and comfortable as possible, make sure their home environment is extra inviting on Bonfire Night:

  • Create a comfy den or safe place for your dog, away from the action. If you have a crate, this is perfect. Otherwise, you can drape a blanket over a chair or table. 
  • Put an old T-shirt, or something that smells of you, in with their bedding.  
  •  Play soothing music to drown out the fireworks. 
  • Draw the curtains so your dog isn’t startled by the flashing lights.  
  • Don’t lock your dog in another room – they’ll no doubt prefer to be close to you. 
  • If your dog is really terrified, there are medications and homoeopathic remedies available. But never give your pet medication without consulting your vet.  

Make sure your dog is microchipped. That way if they do make an escape, you’ve got a better chance of being reunited. In any case, microchipping is now a legal requirement for dogs.

Can I claim for anxiety medication on my pet insurance? 

Some pet insurance policies will cover behavioural therapy and medication, to help with anxiety. Check your policy documents if you’re unsure whether yours does. It’s always worth double-checking the inclusions and exclusions when you’re buying pet insurance, to be sure you have the right level of protection for your pet.

Do I need pet insurance?

It’s not a legal requirement, but pet insurance is a good idea. Insuring your dog doesn’t have to cost the earth. Get a pet insurance quote in minutes to see if you can save. 

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