Keeping Your Pets Calm On Halloween & Bonfire Night

Already there are fireworks being let off late into the night and, with the anti-social bangs, you can hear dogs barking right across the village.

I can’t understand why fireworks are still available for sale to the public given the risks to health and safety, particularly to our children and animals.

But, whilst we have to put up with it – and the late night explosions seem to start earlier every year, here are some things you can do to keep your pets calm, especially on the night itself.

And since it’s Halloween on Monday night, there’s the extra possible disturbance of trick or treaters ringing the door bell and setting pets howling or running for cover.

Animals have very acute hearing and loud noises can cause them real distress so here are some simple steps you could try.

As Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko says, “dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds that are common around Halloween and Bonfire Night. Fireworks, people in costumes knocking on the door, flashes of light and other things that dogs would not normally experience can be terrifying for dogs and could result in them behaving unpredictably which could put their safety, or the safety of people, at risk.”

Try to keep them indoors

In the days when we had Samson, my beloved old black and white moggie, we always made sure he was kept indoors and that the curtains were drawn. It was a little easier for us because Samson was an indoor cat anyway and it’s obviously more difficult if your cat wants to go out for a loo break!

Walk your dog earlier in the day

For dogs, the simple solution is to walk them a little earlier in the day so that they can be safely indoors when the banging and flashing starts, or when people in scary costumes start turning up.

The Kennel Club advise dog owners to walk their dog before trick or treaters start their rounds and keep a firm grip on the lead as many dogs are frightened by people in costumes and could potentially react aggressively through fear.

Distract them

A special chew or some extra kitty biscuits might go some way to taking their mind off the din.  Obviously you don’t want to feed your dog any chocolate from the Halloween sweet stash.  You might also need to keep pets’ water bowls topped up as dogs in particular will drink more through the extra panting that results from being scared.

Create A Safety Zone

If you are having people around which will add to the noise and stress for your pet, you could bed them down in a separate room away from the hubbub.  The staff at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home suggest this could be something simple like a blanket draped over a table and to set this up so that your pet has a chance to get used to it before it needs to be used.

Try A Firework DVD or CD

The Kennel Club suggest that, in the run up to Bonfire Night, you could try playing a sound CD with firework noises or firework sound videos on Youtube at a low level to let your dog get used to the sound in the background.

Behave normally

Close the curtains and turn the television or radio up and try to behave as normally as possible to encourage your pet to do the same. Don’t shout at your pet or tell them off – it’s not their fault they’re scared.

Ensure your pet is chipped or tagged

If they run off you’ll have a far better chance of getting them back again if they have been micro-chipped and are wearing an ID tag.

Fix Broken Fences & Gates

Check that your pets can’t escape from your garden if you have one. Fixing that broken fence before the festivities start might be a good idea just in case your pet makes a break for it.

Talk to your neighbours

Ask your neighbours if they are planning any parties or firework displays of their own.  That way at least you’ll be prepared and could even relocate to somewhere quieter for the evening.

Talk to your vet

There are calming sprays and plug-ins that might help and it’s always worth asking your vet for some advice.

With a little preparation you may be able to make Halloween and Bonfire Night less of an ordeal for your pets.

Do you have any tips for helping to keep pets calm?


Ex marketing professional turned family lifestyle blogger. I live in Cardiff with hubby Mat, Caitlin (10) and Ieuan (8).

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