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Dark Nights - Cat and Dog Safety

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, read on for some top tips for cats and dogs as we go into the winter months.

Be Bright, Be Seen!

There are many options for you and your pet to be more visible on these darker days.

For dog walking, we would recommend reflective collars, harnesses, and leads so that you and your dog can be seen when you are out and about. There are also reflective vests and light-up collars for your dog to be extra visible and bright. Carrying a torch or using a head torch is also a great option when out in parks or away from street lights to help you find your pet quickly.

If your cat wears a collar and is an outdoor cat, consider using reflective collars or using high visibility reflective charms which reflect light such as Kittyrama (available at the surgery) which helps them to be more visible at night.


Legally, dogs have to be microchipped by 8 weeks of age. As the darker nights and firework season approaches check your dog's microchip details are up to date with your correct contact information.

The law is changing so it will also become a legal requirement to have your cat microchipped.

Whilst a microchip is not a tracker, it is a permanent form of identification that your pet cannot lose and gives you the best chance of being reunited. It is also very cost-effective, with a one-off charge of £28.00 (unless you need to update your details at a later date).

Microchipping is quick and easy, just like an injection, if your pet isn’t microchipped consider booking an appointment with one of our nurses to get your pet chipped.

Check out our microchip blog for more information.

Top Tips for Dogs

Things That Go Bang in the Night

As the firework season approaches, random fireworks can scare your dog making them run off and become lost. Consider keeping them on a lead when walking in the dark and shorter walks in the week, taking advantage of weekends for longer daytime walks. Working on your dog’s recall using some great tasty treats will really help your pet stay close to you.

If your dog is nervous and reacts to fireworks, check when local events will be taking place so you can avoid taking them out at these times and walk them before it gets dark. Using diffusers such as Adaptil at home can also help reduce stress levels, as well as playing music or having the tv on to hide the bangs. Creating a den for your dog so they can feel safe will also help your dog relax.

If your dog really struggles with fireworks contact your vet to discuss options on how we can help your dog.

Check out our firework blog for more information.

Stick to Places You Know

A sense of familiarity will be extremely important for both you and your pet. It’s better for the places you go for walks to be well-lit, but if that’s not possible then that’s all the more reason to stick to somewhere you know. If you want to try out a new walking route, we suggest trying it in daylight first so that you and your dog can get acquainted with the new area.

Keep Them Warm

Whilst dog coats are not for every dog (especially those that love to swim!), it may be worth investing in a waterproof and warm coat for your dog over the colder months. Consider the weather when taking them out, if your dog is not a natural snow dog or hates going out in the rain, consider indoor activities and games that keeps them fit and entertained.

Dog Tags

It is also a legal requirement for your dog to wear a dog tag with your phone number and address. Dog tags can be lost easily, so make sure your dog has a tag on their collar.

Top Tips for Cats

Try to keep them indoors at night over the firework season

As Halloween and firework season approaches, it will be safer for your cat to stay indoors overnight. It will reduce the chance of them getting spooked and fireworks can be disorienting causing your cat to become lost. When keeping them indoors remember to provide a litter tray, toys and games to keep them entertained Don’t restrict them to one room, however tempting as cats can become more stressed when confined.

Get them into the routine of feeding earlier, so they are home before dusk. Break out their favourite treat and start training them to come to the shake of the container so they are regularly returning back to their home.

If your cat wears a collar, as mentioned above, make sure it is reflective or has a reflective charm. Collars should be breakaway collars so if they become snagged they snap off rather than injure your cat. The breakaway clip collars are a better choice than those with the elastic strip. Get a tag with your phone number and address, if your cat will not tolerate a dangling tag, consider the tags that slip over the collar as these are more tolerated.

Creating a safe space to hide will help reduce stress, such as the number 1 favourite thing a cat loves - a cardboard box lined with a blanket.

Stay calm, don’t overly comfort your cat as this may make them more anxious, a calm environment makes for a calm cat!

Use a Pet Diffuser, such as Pet Remedy or Feliway. These are plugged in just like a room diffuser and release a naturally appeasing smell which helps to reduce stress.

Cats have super sensitive hearing, so if it is firework season, try to mask the sounds of fireworks by playing music or having your tv on. Closing the curtains or blinds will also help to reduce the noise and flashes of fireworks.

Signs that your cat may be stressed are -

  • Hiding or being withdrawn (changes to their normal behaviour)

  • Eating or drinking less than normal

  • Fearful body language (ears back, flat to the floor, staying low to the ground when walking around)

  • Pacing, circling or restlessness

If your cat is showing these behaviours then contact your vet for advice.


If your cat isn’t neutered it is worth considering getting them castrated (male) or spayed (female). Check out our earlier blog about neutering your pet and the benefits this brings.

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into keeping your pet safe through the darker months.

Contact us at 0208 459 4729 to discuss how we can help your pet!


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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