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Looking After Your Pets on Guy Fawkes – 5 November

Dog looks out the window and watching the fireworks

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Introduction

With the 5th of November just around the corner, if you own a pet (or not), let us help you keep them a little calmer this year amidst the fireworks displays. My name is Alex, a qualified Animal Scientist (Hons) and first-year vet student. I hope to offer some insight into why these loud noises can scare your pets and other animals

Fireworks display. Image by: André Karwath aka Aka – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36138

What is Guy Fawkes?

Guy Fawkes, often misspelled as “Guy Faux”, was a crucial figure in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. He was born in 1570 in York, England. Fawkes converted to Catholicism, opposing the Protestant English rulers at the time.

Along with other Catholic conspirators, Fawkes planned to assassinate King James the First by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament. 

They aimed to reinstate a Catholic monarch. However, the plot fell apart just hours before its execution when Fawkes was discovered guarding the explosives beneath the Parliament. He was then captured and tortured, and later, he and his fellow plotters were executed.

Today, he’s remembered annually on November 5th, known as “Bonfire Night.”

A sketch depicting Guy Fawkes. By George Cruikshank – Ainsworth, William Harrison. Guy Fawkes, or The Gunpowder Treason. 1840., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10479566

WATCH: Our expert interview on why our pets are scared of fireworks and how to keep them a little calmer with Guy Fawkes

YouTube video

Why Are Animals Scared Of Fireworks?

Dogs, cats, and many other animals are often frightened by fireworks for several reasons:

1. Loud Noises: Fireworks produce sudden, loud bangs. From an evolutionary standpoint, sudden and loud noises typically indicate danger. Both dogs and cats have keen hearing, which makes them sensitive to these noises. In the wild, such sounds might have indicated the approach of a larger predator, a sudden environmental threat, or some other danger. Their instinctual response is to be wary or fearful of such noises.

2. Unpredictability: Fireworks are sporadic and unpredictable. Animals don’t understand the pattern of when the next boom will come, which can increase their anxiety.

3. Vibrations: Dogs and cats can feel vibrations more acutely than humans. The shockwaves created by fireworks can be distressing for them.

4. Flashing Lights: The sudden bright flashes of light can be startling. Animals don’t understand the source or the reason for these lights, and they can be disorienting.

5. Smell: Fireworks release a distinct smell due to the gunpowder and other chemicals used. Dogs, in particular, have a very keen sense of smell and might find the odor of fireworks to be strong and off-putting.

6. Sense of Threat: Pets don’t have the cognitive ability to understand what fireworks are or that they’re intended for entertainment. They simply perceive them as a potential threat.

7. Sensitivity to Changes: Both dogs and cats are creatures of habit. They feel safe in a predictable environment. The sudden change in their environment caused by fireworks can make them feel unsafe.

8. Picking Up on Human Emotions: If people around them are excited, shouting, or even anxious due to the fireworks, pets can pick up on these emotions and react to them. 

Two scared dogs hide behind a curtain.

Tips for taking care of your pets on Guy Fawkes

If you’re reading this, you clearly care for your furry friend. I want to offer some ideas to help keep your pet a little calmer on the 5th of November. 

  1. Keep them inside.
  2. Maintain their usual routine of food time and outside time (unless they are very anxious). 
  3. Stay home for the night and be near to them. 
  4. Try to monitor your energy levels in the house. Pets are very sensitive to us and can pick up on our excitement or nervous energy. 
  5. If you can, close the windows as it can help reduce the noise, and close curtains to limit the flashing lights. Just be sure there is still enough fresh air in the house. 
  6. If your pets are scared of fireworks, contact your local veterinarian to get a sedative to take the edge off. 
  7. Avoid taking your dogs with to Guy Fawkes celebrations where there will be fireworks. 
A dog looks out the window and at the fireworks

To conclude

Fireworks can cause lots of unwanted stress to your pets and wildlife animals. When caring for your pet, follow the above options to help reduce their stress. If you are someone who likes to set off fireworks, perhaps reconsider doing so as it affects not only household pets but also surrounding wildlife. 

Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you found it helpful! If you enjoyed reading this you might also like to check out the following articles:

Why Do We Dress Our Pets In Halloween Costumes?

What Can Dogs Eat – A Complete Dogs Dietary Guide

The Origin of Dogs: How Dogs Became Our Best Friends

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