It goes without saying that the autumn months are some of the busiest for British families – with Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night and the social occasions leading up to Christmas. But as we all wrap up warm and enjoy a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate, spare a thought for the 51 million pets1 living in homes around the country. With loud bangs, unwelcome guests and other unfamiliar scenarios to contend with, the next three months are set to be the most stressful for our four-legged friends.
In fact, a recent RSPCA poll suggested that 18% more people will be hosting private events this Bonfire Night. This increase in ‘DIY firework displays’ is especially worrying when considering that our much-loved pets get distressed by these events – with 54% of cats and 62% of dogs becoming upset due to the loud noise caused by the commotion2. And now that Halloween is right around the corner, it’s the purrfect time to prep your home for the annual arrival of trick-or-treaters.
To help support owners during this difficult time, here’s five top tips from Kevin Thackrah, Director of pet-care specialists Petpals, on how you can best care for your pets this Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Set off earlier
Whilst your usual routine might see you taking the dog around the block for its nightly walk after the dark has set in, I would recommend making an exception for this one evening and setting off a little earlier. Walking your dog before the sun goes down – and before any bonfires are set alight! – will minimise any additional stress for your pet.
Keep curtains closed
Do your best to block out any background noise or light by closing all curtains and windows as early on in the day as possible. This will help keep visibility to a minimum and will stop your pet from panicking if there is a sudden noise or knock at the door.
Keep them company
When possible, stay home with your pet on the evenings where higher footfall is expected – keep close and comfort them if they do happen to become alarmed. And if that isn’t doable for you, leave the radio on or the TV playing in the background – just something familiar that will put them at ease.
Keep them inside
If your pets are usually kept outside, in a hutch or pen, perhaps consider bringing them inside for the few hours that firework displays usually go on for. This process – of moving from the outside in – in itself can be slightly unsettling for pets so do this in stages, slowly introducing them to the new sounds and smells that they aren’t familiar with.
Keep them safe
Spooked pets can run away, especially cats, so make sure they’re properly microchipped to make them easily identifiable if they do. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure your contact details are up to date so you can be contacted straight away.
For more information about Petpals’ pet-care services, visit www.petpals.com/
1 RSPCA, 2021, Facts & figures
2 RSPCA, 2021, Fireworks Campaign.