New Year’s Eve: How to keep pets calm during midnight fireworks

Firework displays are being held across the world on New Year’s Eve, but while most people love dazzling pyrotechnics, most domestic pets do not.

The RSPCA estimates that almost half of all household dogs in the UK exhibit signs of fear when they hear fireworks.

This may be due to the fact that dogs can hear four times the distance of a human and are able to pick up higher pitched sounds at a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz.

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“It is natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises," according to renowned dog behaviourist César Millán . "The sounds trigger their nervous systems, and they can become anxious or afraid."

He said that bright flashes and vivid smells can make fireworks even more overwhelming for the creatures.

As a result several animal charities and pet owners have been urging others to keep their pets as calm when the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve and they have issued guidance on how you keep your pet feels as calm and soothed as possible when the fireworks go off.

Here's what they suggest for various pets:

Dogs

If you know that your dog is likely to feel anxious when the fireworks start, there are some preparatory measures you can take to help ease the stress later on.

Animal welfare charity Dogs Trust has advised people to walk their dogs before it becomes dark so they won't need the toilet when the fireworks begin.

It also suggests making sure your house and garden is secure, as your dog may try to run away if it is feeling particularly unsettled.

Providing your dog with a "safe hiding place" in an area of your home where they feel especially comfortable could also help to ease their suffering.

When the dog is in this area, make sure closed the curtains and turned on the TV or radio in order to lessen the sounds emitted by the fireworks.

While the fireworks are going off, it is important not to leave your dog alone, as they may become frightened without your company.

Stay with them until the fireworks end and perhaps keep it occupied by playing games.

Cats

Fireworks can cause cats to become quite skittish, and as such it is essential to think about their safety.

The Blue Cross animal charity recommends keeping your cat indoors during the fireworks.

"Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date," the organisation says.

"This is really important as it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they become spooked and get lost amid the bangs and crashes."

As with dogs, you can make your cat feel more at ease during the fireworks by putting on the TV or radio to muffle the sound and closing the curtains.

In order to make sure your cat stays indoors, the charity advises blocking off your cat flaps.

Your cat may want to roam the house or stay put in a safe space.

Horses

While horses may be used to loud noises as they spend so much time outdoors, they can still become scared by fireworks.

According to the British Horse Society , if you are aware there are horses in your area, you should contact people organising local firework displays and ask that they set them off in the opposite direction to the animals.

If you own one, you can make your horse feel safe by letting it stay in an environment it's familiar with, whether that's in the field or in the stable.

If it remains outdoors, you must check the fencing around the enclosure for any signs of gapping. If it stays indoors, then you should check the horse's surroundings for anything that may cause it harm, such as metal nails or string.

"Ensure that you or someone experienced stays with your horse if you know that fireworks are being set off," the British Horse Society said.

It also recommends playing music on a radio to keep the horse calm if they're in the stable. This will prove most effective if the horse has listened to music on a radio before.

Small animals

Small animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs that are being kept in a cage or pen outside will need to either be moved to an indoor location or have their outdoor enclosures soundproofed.

Veterinary charity the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals advises partly covering outdoor hutches and cages with blankets.

This will slightly muffle the sound of the fireworks, while still providing the animals with some space to peek outside their cage if they wish.

It may be advisable to move the hutch or cage to a garage or shed.

A lot of bedding for the animal so they feel safe and snug, is also recommended.