New Year’s Eve is a time of celebration across the world as people welcome the endless possibilities the fresh year portends. It’s now a tradition virtually everywhere on the planet for new year festivities to be marked by spectacular firework displays. The dazzling pyrotechnics are certainly a sight to behold. Not necessarily for your pets though.
Nearly half of dogs will exhibit some signs of fear when they are exposed to the sound of fireworks. This is perhaps in large part due to the much more sensitive hearing of dogs and other pets. Dogs’ hearing range is 4 times that of humans and they can pick high pitched sounds at 67-45,000 Hz.
The loud sound of fireworks triggers your pet’s nervous system causing fear and anxiety. The vivid smells and bright flashes that accompany fireworks can make the entire experience even more overwhelming for them.
While New Year celebrations nearby are difficult to really get away from especially in urban areas, there are ways you can keep your pets soothed and calm when the fireworks start to go off. Using medication such as CBD for dogs is one way but making the following changes can be just as effective.
1. Build a Serene Pet Space
A kennel or a similar indoor pet space should act as a safe haven your pet can run to whenever it needs somewhere to stay if the distressing noises become persistent and overwhelming. Use blanket-covered chairs and a table to create a safe environment before packing it with cushions, soft blankets, the pet’s favorite toys and anything else that you know will make them more at ease.
If your pet isn’t making its way to the safe space, you could entice it by tossing in some treats. In the event that you are outdoors when the fireworks start, it’s good to have it on a leash to prevent it from running away in fear.
2. Create Distraction
You can mask the abrupt bang of fireworks by turning on your TV or radio. There are also YouTube channels with music carefully chosen to calm your pet. This would dampen the raw impact the fireworks noises would otherwise have on your pet. Don’t turn the volume too high as this might be counterproductive and transfer the pet’s source of distress from the fireworks to the noise from your TV or radio.
You’ll do well to play classical music or music with a heavy bass beat but on low to moderate volume. Your main intention is to mask the more distant bangs as these are still fairly loud to your pet.
3. Act Normal
Animals are adept at reading body language. They will quickly pick up any unusual changes to your emotions and behavior. If your pet notices that you aren’t alarmed by fireworks, they too are less likely to be anxious. Contrary to what you might expect, being overly affectionate or following your pet around will make the pet be confused or nervous.
It won’t always be possible to completely mask your shock at a sudden bang in your vicinity but as long as you strive to follow your everyday routines in engaging the pet, you should be ok.
4. Provide Comfort
This may seem a little contradictory to the previous point but while acting normal is crucial, you shouldn’t hesitate to cuddle your pet if it seeks you out for comfort. You should never reprimand your pet for panicking or cowering in the wake of the fireworks as this will only exacerbate their fears.
Instead, stay relaxed and be a sea a calm amidst the noise around. Interact with them gently. Note that different pets should be handled differently. You shouldn’t for instance forcefully restrain or pick up your cats if they show fear. Unlike dogs, cats prefer to maintain control over how they cope when they are scared.
5. Close Your Curtains
Close your curtains and windows to prevent your pet from seeing the flashes that accompany a major fireworks event. Curtains and windows also serve as a physical barrier to the loud sounds. In addition, it draws the focus of your pet inward so they can concentrate on what is happening inside your home.
These measures will help your pet go through the New Year fireworks celebrations largely unscathed. Nevertheless, there’s no guarantee that your pet will not be overwhelmed by firework phobia. If that happens, get in touch with your vet who will advise on additional steps you could take. If medication such as CBD fails to work, they may eventually refer you to a clinical animal behaviorist.