Having a bonfire blast without pet peril


Bonfire night- it’s a Great British tradition.  Gunpowder, treason and plot remembered from over 400 years ago still inspires celebrations all over Britain every 5th November.  Many towns have their own special ways of celebrating.  Ottery St Mary in Devon, hosts burning tar barrels, carried through the streets on the shoulders of those brave enough to race with them.  That’s right – on their actual shoulders! Lewes in West Sussex is home to an impressive procession of effigies, along with 17 burning crosses and more burning barrels… and almost every town and village has its own bonfire and fireworks event. We are bonfire-bonkers here in Britain!

There’s no doubt all those festivities can be a lot of fun and bonfire night is a welcome festival in the dark winter months, but make sure you consider your pets.  Many, many pets show fear of fireworks.  Dogs can become withdrawn, whine, bark or panic, resulting in injury or damage to property.  Cats can hide away, have raised anxiety and ears that twirl about like radar.  Horses can be really spooked by fireworks which can be super-dangerous for them and those around them, and don’t forget the little ones in hutches and cages who can be frightened by loud noises but maybe don’t show it so much as they are prey animals and tend to hide their feelings.

So how can we have a bonfire night that suits everyone? Follow these top tips for a happy fireworks night for your (and other people’s) pets.

  • Walk your dog earlier in the day, while it is still light outside. Remember that nervous animals can poop more frequently so take an extra biodegradable poo bag in your pocket, just in case😊


  • Create a hideaway for your dog or cat. You could drape blankets or towels off a chair or table – think kids’ den! You could put on the radio too to help lessen the impact of loud bangs and shut the curtains so your pet isn’t so bothered by flashes of light.


  • Keep your pets indoors. Cats can be spooked by fireworks and bolt.  Keep the cat flap locked over the firework season.  Don’t forget to stock up on compostable poop bags and to provide a litter tray for your kitty 😊


  • Stable your larger animals, if you can, and consider draping your tiny ones’ hutches with a blanket to help sound-proof and shut out light flashes – remember to leave space for air to circulate.


  • Lastly think about how we can all help lessen the environmental load of bonfire night on the planet. Think plastic-free: take a re-usable bottle or lovely flask of hot chocolate rather than buying some in a plastic cup.  Join in a municipal display rather than having individual ones all over the neighbourhood in gardens.  Think zero-waste: stop and think before you give in to requests for plastic light-up toys at display grounds.  Why not try explaining to your kids why single-use plastic toys that break and are poor quality are not a good choice for the planet – kids get it – give it a go.


Feature photo by Mikhail Vasilyev

Leave a comment