VET’S VIEW: Keep pets and wildlife safe on bonfire night

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MOST pets hate next week. The annual scarefest of fireworks of all shapes and sizes, colours and noises, exploding around them.

Animals – pets or wildlife – often get incredibly stressed on bonfire night so you must prepare them properly, or otherwise risk suffering both short and long-term behavioural problems.

Luckily, our knowledge of animal behaviour is much better these days, with many safe options and products available to help pets cope with a potentially very noisy and distressing period, often leading to shaking, crying, hiding, panting, restlessness or appearing ‘flat’, both mentally and physically.

Unconfident canines should be acclimatised before the big night using the many noise CDs and downloads that are available.

Make a safe den for your dog to retreat into if scared, and distract from firework noises by turning up the TV or radio. Act normally, rewarding good behaviour with treats and toys.

Feed and walk dogs before dusk, draw curtains, ensuring all doors, windows, and cat/dog flaps are shut.

Frightened felines may suddenly groom excessively, behave aggressively, even begin house soiling, so keep cats in after dark, providing them with a fresh litter tray if they usually toilet outside. Small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils, need their hutches/cages brought indoors – preferably into a quiet room, garage or shed – and give them extra bedding to burrow into.

For a pet-friendly fireworks night, why not enjoy hand-held cascading fireworks rather than noise-making varieties?

Keep fireworks safe, and bonfires well away from homes – checking carefully before lighting to make sure no hedgehogs are sleeping peacefully inside.

Make sure pets are microchipped, too, in case they escape. Useful calming products to ask your vet about include pheromone diffusers as plug-ins or sprays. Wishing you and your pets a safe and stress-free November 5th!

Don’t forget our Children’s Hallowe’en Party tonight at Grove Lodge Vets in Southwick, with real snakes and fun competitions and pet advice. Call 01273 596201 for details.