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Protect your pets this Bonfire Night

As the nights draw in, people across the borough are excited about spectacular fireworks displays.

Fireworks displays are one of the highlights of the season, but for pets it might not be so exciting, and owners are urged to be vigilant with their animal’s wellbeing.

Animals can become extremely stressed and behave out of character. Loud bangs can also be painful for pets as their hearing is more acute than humans.

North East Lincolnshire Council’s regulation and enforcement team see a significant increase in stray dogs around Bonfire Night, Halloween and New Year.

Owners are asked to be extra vigilant as there is there is a cost associated with collecting lost or stray pets from Council custody.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “Many pets can panic because of the sudden loud noise from fireworks, and could even escape in the confusion.

“This can be put family pets at risk and can be extremely dangerous if they run out into the road, which could have potentially serious consequences, not just for them, but for motorists.

“Pet owners should make sure their animals are cared for and reassured and take steps to avoid them getting loose.”

The regulation and enforcement team advise owners to make sure their dog is microchipped and wearing an ID tag, even at home.

This means that if animals do run away, they can be quickly reunited with their family.

Fluorescent collars are also advisable and are the best way to ensure that your dog is visible to motorists during the dark mornings and evenings.

Bonfire Night can be extremely stressful to dogs, which can cause them to bark excessively, as a result, the council is more tolerant at this time of year when it comes to enforcement of noise nuisance.

The regulation and enforcement team offers the following advice to pet owners to help their animals feel less afraid:

  • Provide a den or a hiding place where your dog can go to feel safe at all times, and give praise when they are ready to come out.
  • Do not punish your dog for bad behaviour as this will only make them more confused or distressed.
  • Do not cuddle and comfort them as this may make the problem worse, thinking that you are fearful too. Instead, act as normal and praise calm behaviour.
  • Provide distractions while the fireworks are happening, like playing with new toys or chews.
  • Turn on the TV and keep curtains closed to mask the noise and black out flashes from the fireworks.
  • Do not leave your pet alone when fireworks are going off, even if you are nipping to the shop, as they can panic and injure themselves. With a familiar person around, they will benefit from the increased sense of security and the comfort this gives them.
  • Keep windows, doors, and cat flaps closed during firework night to reduce the risk of your pets escaping.
  • Walk your dog when it’s still light outside, and preferably in the morning where there is less chance of fireworks being set off. Let them out for the toilet before darkness and the fireworks begin.

Some dogs may benefit from being fed an afternoon meal that is high in carbohydrates (such as well-cooked rice or pasta) which will help them to feel sleepier and calmer that evening. Give them plenty of exercise during the day to tire them out by the evening.

Trembling, pacing, cowering, and barking are signs that your dog may be stressed and fearful.

Never take your dog to a firework display, even when they are not showing signs of fear. Excessive panting and yawning can also indicate stress in your dog.

RSPCA research suggests firework phobia is a treatable condition, speak to your vet about possible solutions.

Do not forget smaller pets, especially those that live outdoors.

Ensure they have extra bedding to burrow down into and feel safe, and partially cover aviaries, cages and pens, to provide some sound proofing and make sure they are well ventilated.

Even better, bring them indoors or into your garden shed or garage where possible.

If your dog goes missing, visit https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/environment-and-community-safety/clean-streets/stray-lost-dogs/ for details on what steps to take.

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