At this time of year, many pets can become stressed and anxious when fireworks are let off sporadically. Unfortunately, this can last from October to the New Year and can be a stressful time for pet owners as well as their beloved four-legged friends.
For pets that are affected by loud noises, they may display their anxiety in a number of ways, including shaking or hiding, vocalisation, ears pinned back, reduced appetite and some pets can become aggressive.
There are, however, many positive things that can be done to help keep your pet calm.
Provide a safe space
Give your pet somewhere safe to go and hide should they become anxious from the loud bangs. This can be an enclosed crate, table or cupboard near the centre of the home, or where they have previously hidden. You could cover the sides and top to make it comfortable and even some clothing of yours that will smell familiar to them. Let them come and go as they please.
Stay calm yourself
During the fireworks stay calm yourself and don’t react to any loud bangs, as your pet will react to you. Try not to worry and don’t get angry with your pet or over fuss them, just reassure them gently and be as normal and routine as possible.
Keep pets indoors
Keep all pets indoors during the fireworks. For cats who like to go outside, make sure you place plenty of litter trays around the house, especially by usual exit points. Make sure your dog has had an opportunity to go to the toilet well before it gets dark. Also, don’t walk your dog during the fireworks, take them out in the late afternoon if possible, before it gets dark.
Reduce the noise
Try and mask the sound of the loud bangs by putting the TV on or playing some music, especially if animals are left home alone. You could also muffle the sound of the fireworks by closing the curtains and windows.
Provide your pet with plenty of toys to distract them from the loud noises. Ignore the fireworks yourself and play with your pet, but don’t force them to play if they don’t seem interested.
Keep usual routines in place
Maintain your normal routines to help reduce stress for your pet. Feed and walk your pet at the same time, if possible. Any changes in their usual routine can lead to further stress or anxiety.
Comfort your pet
Sit close to your pet and stroke them to try and keep them calm. Physical contact could help to make them feel safe and reduce their anxiety. But don’t force them, if they prefer to go off on their own and hide, let them and just be sure to keep checking on them to make sure they are ok.
Don’t punish your pet
If they do anything out of the ordinary due to stress, don’t punish them. This is a reaction to how they feel in a situation and shouting at them could lead to further stress.
Prepare in advance
If you know fireworks will be going off in your local area, try to prepare ahead of time. Make sure your pet has plenty of distractions and has been out for a long walk that day to use up their energy. Being prepared could lead to a less stressful evening for you and your pet.
Ask your vet about calming supplements
There are a wide range of products on the market that have been developed to help pets that get stressed and frightened by the fireworks. These include natural supplements such as Nutracalm, which works within a couple of hours, Anxiety vests such as Thundershirts and plugin diffusers such as Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats.