17 October 2022, UK
Bonfire night and Diwali may still be a week or two away, and with them comes the probability of fireworks.
Unfortunately, what might be an exciting and colourful display for us can be a frightening and threatening experience to our furry friends.
To help prepare your cats and dogs for the weeks ahead, experts from global pet brand PetSafe® share their nine top tips to help keep them calmer and safer during those noisy nights. But start straight away - and slowly build up - so that they have time to get used to any changes.
1. Preparation is key
Gradually start to desensitise your dog to firework sounds at home by exposing them to audio recordings. You can find lots of these online. Settle him in an environment where he feels safe and get him used to the sounds slowly – from a very low volume and short duration and gradually increase. Reward calmness with lots of positive attention and healthy treats. But stop immediately at any signs of distress and try again when he feels at ease. It’s really important to go at your pet’s pace.
2. Make sure they’re safe and secure
Make sure your pets have been walked, to the toilet and are safely indoors before it goes dark. Bring cats inside at night from now, so that they get them accustomed to new indoor sights, smells and sounds before the fireworks begin.
Frightened pets can go into fight-or-flight mode and may try to escape when they hear loud bangs. New noises and bright lights can also be disorientating - causing them to become lost or startling them - so make sure windows, doors and pet doors are locked. Also check for any holes or gaps in fence panels that could provide an escape route and make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date.
3. Make a cosy den
Create a space where your pet feels safe and secure – a sanctuary for when they feel anxious. Set it up now so he becomes familiar and comfortable, long before displays start. Choose a quiet room and add blankets, bedding and pillows to help muffle sounds, as well as the comfort of their favourite toys. A covered bed or crate with the door open also work well for dogs and puppies. Closing windows and curtains is an easy and effective way to dampen the sound of the fireworks and dim the bright flashes – but again, do it now, so that your pet has time to get used to it.
4. Make a date of local displays
Keep an eye on local and community news – and talk to neighbours - to find out when and where local displays are taking place. Make a note, ensure that your pet is safely indoors before fireworks begin and try to be home for reassurance.
5. Review your daily routine
You may need to make temporary changes to your daily routine, so that your pet’s not outside when fireworks begin. Try to walk your dog during daylight hours and, if this is different to your normal routine, start now to get them gradually used to it. And feed your felines earlier, so they know what time to come home, and remember to provide litter trays. Start now for maximum benefits.
6. Keep them hydrated
When dogs are anxious, they can pant more, which can cause dehydration. So, make sure you keep their water bowl topped up. For reluctant drinkers, take a look at pet fountains or these other top tips to ensure they’re getting enough water.
7. Keep them distracted
Distract your dog from the sound of fireworks by playing familiar ones, like soothing music or a TV programme. When they remain calm and settled, reward with healthy treats and positive attention. Puzzle and interactive toys are another effective, fun and active way to distract dogs and cats attention.
8. Give him a chew treat
Many dogs help relieve stress by chewing, so give him toys and other healthy treats that he can enjoy in his safe place. This will help take his mind off the outside noises and create more positive associations with fireworks.
9. Take a look at your own behaviour
If you’re getting stressed about fireworks, your dog will pick up on it. So, try to remain calm and send positive signals to him. Act normal, offer comfort and don't lose your patience, nor try to tempt them out any hiding sanctuaries, such as underneath a bed or behind the sofa. Making a big fuss only reassures them that there’s good reason to panic so stay relaxed.
PetSafe® Brand’s Rob Steele said: “While we humans have learned to expect fireworks around at this time of year, the sounds they make can be very startling for cats and dogs. Their acute hearing makes them more sensitive to firework noises, and they’re also likely to be more sensitive to their smell.
“Dogs and cats - like all wild animals - associate loud noises with danger and will be stressed and fearful. But by following these nine simple steps, we’ll be doing a great deal to help our pets get through firework season with as little stress as possible – for everyone.”
For further information visit www.petsafe.com/UKDownload