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Bonfire Night - advice for dog owners

Consideration must be given to pets on and around Bonfire Night. Special care needs to be taken to ensure that your pets are protected from the stress and anxiety that is caused by fireworks.

Animal Welfare Officers receive an increase in lost dog complaints during this time each year with family pets found miles from their homes, so it is important that owners take steps to ensure their pets are protected on and around the time of November 5th. 

The message is to enjoy festivities, but make sure your pets do too. Simple precautions can be taken to ensure that every member of your family has a safe and enjoyable time.

  • Contact the council to find out dates of any local displays and speak to neighbours to see if they are planning to let off any fireworks. If you don't know your neighbours well, a polite note through their letterbox explaining your dog is nervous may encourage them to let you know any plans they have for bonfire parties. Construction of unauthorised bonfires on council or vacant land should be reported to NETSs, Land & Countryside Services
  • Keep your pets indoors when fireworks are around (this may also mean during the days before and after November 5th).
  • Close the curtains and turn on the radio or TV to help drown out the noise.
  • Make sure your dog has a "safe" place where it can hide and feel secure. This may be a crate or indoor kennel. Be aware that not all dogs will want to be "comforted" and the more you react to your dog's fear the more likely they are to feel sure there is something to worry about. Try to behave in as relaxed and normal a way as possible to reassure your dog there is no reason to be scared.
  • Depending on how scared your dog is, you can try distracting him/ her with their favourite toys or treat. Be aware of your dogs body language however and if it does not respond in the normal way after a few attempts, continue acting calm and relaxed but allow your dog some space.
  • If you have a very nervous dog speak to your vet, who may be able to prescribe a sedative to help it relax.You could also seek the advice of a behaviourist who can work with you to address your dog's anxiety issues. Speak to your vet for a referral, or take a look at our list of local behaviourists.
  • Ensure your dog is wearing appropriate identification and is microchipped to allow prompt return to its home, should it escape and be found by a member of the public or Animal Welfare Officers. If your dog does become lost, let the relevant authorities know as soon as possible.

How can I tell if my dog is anxious?

An anxious dog
Dogs have many different ways of showing anxiety. If a dog shows any or some of the below signs, he/she may be afraid. It is important to respond appropriately to the signals a dog is giving you as even the mildest dog can bite if it feels threatened.

  • Vocalising
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Cowering and hiding
  • Salivating
  • Decreased activity
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Urination and soiling
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Yawning
  • Scratching
  • Refusing to eat