How come some dogs, cats or horses can take life in their stride while others jump out of their skin if a leaf falls from a tree! Animals like humans deal with anxious situations in different ways.
Deep into the autumn, owners of stressy animals start fearing the firework season as they know they will have dogs barking, shaking, hiding or salivating through night after night of loud bangs from Halloween to the New Year. According to statistics, 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks and this seems to get worse the older the dog becomes.
Why are animals scared of fireworks?
If you were sitting quietly alone reading a book and then somebody popped balloon behind you, what do you think your reaction would be? Probably shout, scream and jump out of your skin. You were not expecting it and your reaction is exaggerated. This feeling replicates in what dogs and cats have when they hear fireworks or even thunder. With the party season in full swing, the bangs go on for a long period which are noisy, visually scary and unpredictable. If your pets are close enough they would probably react to the burning smell too. Add these factors together and you can see why they are so stressed at this time of year.
What are the signs of a stressed animal?
Panic in dogs comes in the form of panting, pacing, whining, drooling and barking. Their tail will be between their legs, perhaps ears back and many will be pawing you to let you know that they are not happy! They may also try and hide or run from room to room trying to escape the noise. In extreme cases, they may urinate out of fear within the house which is completely out of character. It is horrible for the dog and for the owner to see their animal distressed.
How to reduce the stress during the party season
With thunderstorms, these are unpredictable and you don’t know the severity of the storm until it hits. With fireworks, you can plan to a certain degree when they are going to be held near your home. So how can you help make your animals feel more secure and safer with fireworks:
Make sure they have a bolt hole – Make sure they have a room to escape to when the fireworks start. This could be an under stairs cupboard, the bathroom or simply underneath a table. They will take comfort in being able to hide somewhere while there are fireworks.
Look at alternative therapies – There is a variety of medication that a vet can prescribe or you can buy from your pet store or online. These can come in a form of sprays, wipes and a diffuser. These are a mix of essential oils which have a calming effect on animals. They are safe to use and the results can be extremely helpful to pet and owner!
Play music or the tv loudly – Make sure the windows and doors are shut and turn up the stereo! This will mask the sound for the animals even though their hearing is more acute than ours. It was lovely to see Bill Turnbull this year present his radio show on firework night playing soothing classical tunes with stressed pets in mind.
Make sure they have company– If you can, make sure you are at home with them if a firework display is being held near your home. If you cannot be in, see if someone can babysit them during the fireworks. They are much happier with company and a cuddle!
If you have found your animals have had a stressful few weeks with Halloween and Guy Fawkes night, then make sure you prepare them for the up and coming Christmas and New Year celebrations. Calm animals make very calm owners!
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