ANIMAL lovers are being urged to prepare their pets ahead of Bonfire Night at the weekend. 

According to The Vet, which has a number of surgeries across the country, an estimated 35 per cent more dogs and 22 per cent more cats are reported missing on November 5 than on any other night of the year.

To help stop your pet being one of them, Hermann Heyl, one of The Vet’s clinical directors, says the best thing to do is plan ahead.

Here's his handy guide for worried owners: 

Tip one: Desensitisation

This means increasing your pets’ tolerance to what they are afraid of by exposing them to it in tiny amounts at first and gradually increasing their exposure over time.

With noise phobias, this is done by playing the sounds at a very low volume in the background initially and then increasing the volume over time.

Ideally, the desensitisation should be done just before something fun happens for example before dinner time, ‘walkies’, play time or cuddle time.

This should train your pet to associate the sound with something positive rather than something negative.

Tip two: Build a den

This involves providing them with a quiet, calm spot that they can escape to and hide in at any time that they are feeling unsafe or vulnerable.

When choosing a suitable spot, try to choose an area that is generally quiet and away from windows and doors or noisy appliances like washing machines or tumble driers.

When picking somewhere for cats, they will often naturally seek refuge either up high (for example on top of a book case or shelf) or underneath furniture if they can’t climb.

It is also sensible to have the area covered over so that your pet can climb in and hide if they so choose.

Tip three: Diffusers

There are a number of different types of diffusers you can plug into your home to help aid with anxiety.

Some contain pheromones or ‘happy hormones’ that act to reassure your pets.

For dogs, it is called ADAPTIL and the pheromone is the same one that their mum would emit when they were nursing babies to make them feel relaxed and content.

For cats, its Feliway which emits the same pheromone that cats rub onto your leg at feeding time to tell you that you belong to them and that makes them happy!

Tip four: On the day

  • Walk your dog during the daylight hours so that they are good and tired come evening time.

• Keep your cats indoors and lock the cat flap - make sure they have a litter tray and that they are used to it and aware that it is there.

• Close the windows and curtains to reduce the noise and the visible flashes of light.

• Turn on the TV/ radio or let them watch their favourite YouTube channel. Set the volume just loud enough to muffle out the sound of fireworks.

Tip five: Keep calm and carry on

If you are anxious about their behaviour, they will reflect this.

Talk reassuringly to them but do not make a fuss.

Act as though everything is fine. If you are frightened, this may convince them that there is something to fear.

If they are behaving calmly, praise them for being brave. If not, don’t scold them for being anxious.

If your dog has a big brave friend who is not scared of fireworks, invite them around to play together.