A SOUTH Somerset veterinary practice is urging pet owners to be prepared for fireworks season to help keep their animals safe.

Isle Valley Vets in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, near Yeovil, is sharing some helpful hints to help keep cats and dogs calm.

If a pet is already unnerved by noise, owners are being encouraged to talk to their vet practice about planning some long-term techniques to help desensitise them.

As Bonfire Night approaches, vets are advising owners to take steps now so their pets are less frightened by the sudden flashes of light and loud bangs.

The celebrations often start early before the main event on November 5, and continue for several days or weeks afterwards, causing some animals to become anxious or even run away.

Isle Valley Vets recommends pets are kept indoors during the fireworks period to prevent any injury or stress, while windows and doors should be kept shut to prevent them from fleeing through fear.

Pets should wear collars and tags, and microchips should be up to date so they can be reunited with their owner if they flee.

It is also good to create a den for dogs in one of the quietest rooms in the house. Having music or the television on can calm pets or distract them from the noise of pyrotechnics.

Veterinary nurse Emma Hugill, who is Isle Valley Vets’ practice manager, said: “Pets and their owners can find the fireworks season a difficult time, especially because it spans several weeks. It is really worth thinking ahead to help keep animals happy, safe and comfortable.

“Providing a safe place where they can hide, like a den, is a good idea and there are also over-the-counter therapies that can help to keep them calm.

“Dogs should not be left on their own during this time and even pets that have not previously shown any fear can become sensitive, so it is a good idea to ask your vet for advice.

“The biggest worry is that many pets will bolt through fear so make sure doors and windows are shut.”

Pheromones, which are available as diffusers, releasing scent undetectable to humans, can also have a calming, reassuring effect on pets and can be used for several weeks leading up to fireworks season.

Isle Valley Vets' 10 top tips

• Keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are being let off.

• Walk your dog in daylight hours to avoid being out when fireworks start.

• Keep windows and doors shut to reduce the sound of fireworks and block off catflaps to stop frightened pets from fleeing. Leave internal doors open so they don’t feel trapped.

• Create a safe place or ‘den’ for the evenings where they have their favourite toys and can’t see any flashes outside. Offer nutritious treats and toys and games that encourage them to forage but give them the choice to interact.

• Close the curtains and put on music or the TV in advance to help drown out the noise of fireworks.

• Make sure cats and dogs are wearing collars and tags in case they bolt and ensure microchip details are up to date so they can be quickly reunited with you.

• Don’t leave your pet home alone in the evenings during fireworks season.

• Keep calm, act as normal as possible and reassure your pet to make them feel safe and secure. Let them hide if they want and avoid scolding or shouting as they are already frightened, and this behaviour will make them feel worse.

• Cover rabbit hutches or aviaries with blankets to block out sight of fireworks and reduce sound of bangs.

• Bring hutches or cages indoors, if possible, or into a garage or shed.