Bonfire Night 2022: Bristol Animal Rescue Centre gives top 10 tips to keep pets calm

Bristol Animal Rescue Centre sees an influx of stray dogs around Guy Fawkes Night as scared pooches try to escape the fireworks
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An animal charity operating in Bristol for almost 150 years has issued 10 top tips for pet owners ahead of Guy Fawkes Night after a visit from the Metro Mayor. Dan Norris paid a visit to Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (BARC) today (November 3) to highlight RSPCA research which shows 63% of animals show “signs of distress” as a result of fireworks.

Since 1887, BARC has taken care of the city’s animals but has always dreaded November 5 as it gears up for an influx of stray dogs who escape their homes to avoid the loud bang of fireworks. A senior animal behaviourist at the rescue centre warned those who have recently become pet owners that Bonfire Night can be distressing as they watch their terrified pets.

Zita Polgar said: “Each animal’s response to fireworks is different, but some pets might tremble, shut down, or freeze. Some might panic, causing physical injury to themselves or others around them, or damaging furniture. They may try to escape or run away. It can be distressing for pet owners to see, especially if you’re unprepared.”

Further research conducted by the RSPCA shows 69% of UK adults do take measures to help relax or prepare pets, horses, and livestock for firework season - something BARC is encouraging more people to do this year by producing a top ten tips factsheet.

Upon his visit to the centre, Metro Mayor Dan Norris urged residents to use fireworks “considerately”, admitting his pooch, Angel, struggles to cope with the noise.

He said: Bonfire Night is a British tradition. But for animals, who don’t have a clue what’s going on, it can spell stress. So please use fireworks considerately. My own dog Angel struggles at this time of year but finds it reassuring knowing I am at home with her. In the run-up to the big day, I’d encourage owners to try to make the night as un-Bonfire-Night-like as possible. Have a look at BARC’s top tips and maybe create a safe haven with all your pets’ favourite blankets and cuddly toys, stick on Pet Classics on Classic FM for some calm, relaxing music, and have a nice chilled-out evening.”

Metro Mayor, Dan Norris visited the Bristol Animal Rescue Centre ahead of Bonfire Night.Metro Mayor, Dan Norris visited the Bristol Animal Rescue Centre ahead of Bonfire Night.
Metro Mayor, Dan Norris visited the Bristol Animal Rescue Centre ahead of Bonfire Night.

Bristol Animal Rescue Centre’s top ten tips for this year and future Bonfire Nights are:

  • Start prepping your pet early - for dogs, we recommend Sounds Scary, an easy-to-follow therapy pack that includes a specially made set of high-quality sound recordings and a guide for owners to help get them become less afraid of loud noises
  • Walk your dog during daylight hours to avoid being outside when fireworks are likely to go off
  • Cats can become more stressed if they’re outside during fireworks, so make sure you get them inside before nightfall
  • Make sure they have a safe place to hide if they want to and ensure they have access to this place at all times
  • Make sure your pet can’t escape outside if there’s a sudden noise
  • Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape (by law all dogs should be microchipped)
  • Ask your vet for advice about pheromone diffusers - these dispense calming chemicals into the room and may help ease your pet’s anxiety - and being referred to an animal behaviourist for help
  • At nightfall, close the windows and curtains and put on music to muffle the sound of fireworks
  • Stay at home – being there to offer reassurance can help. With dogs, it can help to ignore the fireworks but instead take out a favourite toy and play with it to see if they want to join you – but don’t force them
  • Don’t punish your pets when they are scared as this will just make it worse in the long run
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