We’re welcoming in a new decade tonight and while it might be exciting for us humans to clink glasses and watch the fireworks, it can be a distressing time for pets.Yes, they’ve probably just got over the fireworks at Bonfire Night and now here comes more.
Dogs and cats hear differently to humans which mean fireworks, even far in the distance, can seem very loud to them and it’s difficult for them to understand what is happening.The RSPCA says 45% of dogs show signs of being scared when they hear fireworks.
If your pet finds this time of year difficult, there are some things you can do.James McElroy, co-founder of Gudog – a site for dog sitters and dog walkers – has some advice.
Have a look before midnight to find out if there are any displays near you so you have a better idea of when your pet might hear fireworks.
Although it’s a bit late with most displays just hours away, if your pet reacts badly this time, you can speak to your vet about medication they can take in the future or you can look at a pet store for products that could help.
Use a Food Dispensing Toy for Fast Eaters. If your dog eats too fast use a food dispensing toy (we love the Kong Wobbler & Bob a Lot), or place a few tennis balls in their bowl to slow their eating. Not only does this keep them from eating too quick, it gives them a nice mental workout.
Maintain your usual routine
During the festive season, it can be hard to stick to a routine, but it’s important to try to fit in the things your pet is used to.James explains: ‘Treat your dog to plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Not only will this tire them out and let them do their business stress-free but if you’re out before dusk you’re less likely to have any run-ins with fireworks out in the open.’
Give them dinner early on as they might be off their food once the fireworks start. Make sure that they have lots of water as they are more likely to drink more when they are stressed.
Create a safe environment
It’s important to do what you can to create somewhere calm for your pet.
Keep them inside and if they do need a toilet trip, use a lead. They can be spooked by loud bangs and runoff.
If you are going out for the night, make sure that someone who they feel comfortable with is at home – it’s not a good idea to leave them alone.
James adds: ‘Close the curtains to block out the flashing lights and muffle the sound. It may also be a good idea to switch on the TV to help block out the noise, but only do this if your dog is used to the sound of the TV.
Make your own hammock-style car seat cover. The hammock style keeps the dog from getting hurt if he or she falls during any sudden stops or starts. Get the pattern here.
‘You could create a ready-made safe space for your pet by placing their bed in a tucked away area, with some of your clothes in there. Your scent might help to keep your dog calm, even though they may not want you by their side.’
Let your dog take the lead
You must let your dog do what they feel they need to and you act as normal as possible.
James says: ‘Your pooch might be feeling quite stressed so be sure to give them the space to let them pace or hide if they want to.
‘Once your dog has found a safe spot try not to disturb or over fuss them.’
Socialising builds confidence
‘One of the best things you can do for your pet is to stay calm and act normally. Your dog will sense any unease so be sure to offer plenty of praise for calm behaviour and cuddle them if they come to you for comfort.’
If your dog does have an accident or does something that you wouldn’t normally allow, don’t get angry as this will make them more stressed. Keep a close eye on them and distract them with cuddles, treats and soft toys.