VETS in Swindon were taking up to half-a-dozen calls a day from worried pet owners in the run up to Guy Fawkes Night this year.

Requests for sedatives and other calming medicines doubled as neighbourhoods experienced loud bangs from fireworks being set off in the streets for the past three weeks.

Sam Wheeler, client care at Lawn Vets Swindon, said: “We have had a lot of enquiries on how to help customers pets over this difficult time for them – it really is a terrible weekend for animals.

“There needs to be a policy put in place that only allows organised firework displays, it’s just not fair on animals or their owners.”

All the clinics the Advertiser spoke to reported that they had seen more inquiries from owners about how they could help their frightened pets get through the season.

Owners described their dogs and cats shivering and panicking in reaction to the loud noises. They also suffered increased heart rates. Frightened dogs barked constantly, many sought places to hide. Some ran off in a panic and were later posted as missing on social media.

Operations coordinator at Eastcott Veterinary Clinic Rachel Gowshall said: “Many pets become very distressed when the fireworks start. The natural instinct for owners is to try and soothe them and offer comfort.

“Sadly this usually does not help and can actually make matters worse. Some firework displays will go on for some time and a dog or cat can be left in real fear for many hours. It is unfortunately common for dogs and cats to become more distressed each year. There are strategies that can be adopted to help, but for some, prescription medications are the only way to provide some relief.”

A petition launched to ban the sale of fireworks to the public and demanding they should only be sold for organised public displays is set to be debated in Parliament after gathering more than 100,000 signatures in a matter of days.

It says: “Fireworks are a nuisance to the public. They scare animals, young children and people with a phobia. They injure thousands of people every year.”

Giovanna Hartley, the practice manager at Thameswood Veterinary Clinics, said: “We fully back the petition to ban the sale of fireworks to the public. We see first hand at our clinics the effects on pets and we need to help them as much as possible.

“We issue newsletters to try and help our clients prepare for this weekend two months in advance.”