Stop Your Furry Friends Freaking Out with Fireworks
If your dog or cat isn’t – understandably - a fan of fireworks, then Nov 5 and the days leading up to it can be a bit of a nightmare, to say the least. And not just for them. We’re sure it’s no fun having a howling dog or shaking feline around for you and your family either.
So, what to do? Well, we definitely recommend carrying out all of the following – or as much of it as you need to:
Sit indoors in solitude with your pet
Grab that fluffball of yours and sit together in a room which you’ve decked out previously with their favourite blanket, a handful of toys and plenty of treats and foodstuffs they find irresistible. Feed them the food by making them find it, give a paw, or remove it from a puzzle dispenser toy. In other words, keep them occupied so that the noise from fireworks is reduced to background noise so doesn’t have as much affect.
Why does this work? Well, firstly, food can be a huge motivator for most dogs and cats. Secondly, distraction can be a powerful psychological tool. Thirdly – and probably most importantly – you are in there with your pet.
An American university study carried out in 2013 by Márta Gácsi revealed that, like a child, dogs were less prone to anxiety if their mother (in this case, owner), was with them. The researchers demonstrated this by measuring a dog’s heart rate when approached by a stranger whom our four-legged friend felt threatened by. When repeated, the dog’s heart beat was lower when he met the stranger with his owner by his side. In other words, being with your dog when they are feeling particularly anxious – when fireworks are going off, for instance - can definitely help.
Comforting a dog or cat to help them deal with anxiety is also a smart idea - but only if the pet wants it. Forcing your furry pal to be comforted will just make them feel even more stressed, and probably want to run.
Listen to some cool sounds
While the pair of you are doing your thing in that room of yours, it could also help to play some music specially created to soothe cats or dogs during fireworks and other displays of loud noises.
There are plenty you can download on iTunes at this moment in time. Here’s a few we’ve found within minutes of googling:
Watch Dog/Cat TV
Swimming Fish (cats)
Give your pet a ‘high’
Let Rover or Tiddles feel chilled this November 5 by allowing them to experience the calming effects of some pet sprays or plug-ins - even oral drugs - available from vets and pet shops. Adaptil, for instance, mimics a bitch’s pheromones after she’s just given birth, while Feliway has a similar calming effect on cats. Just check how long these take to start working though since some plug-ins have to be installed at least 48 hours beforehand to get best effect.
Meanwhile, a great way to ensure your dog or cat never feels frightened when fireworks or other loud noises are in the vicinity, is to introduce them to a noise de-sensitizing programme. Many animal behaviourists offer videos with loud noises such as hoovers, motorbikes, aeroplanes etc. The volume is incredibly low at first and then gradually increased as your pet becomes used to the noise. Again, you can also find some of these videos today on the web.
Good luck – and do let us know how you get on!