Whenever the calendar switches year, our pets start trembling in fear. Pets and New Year’s fireworks don’t get along at all. Animals have much sharper senses than we humans do, and the noise of explosions, the smell of sulphur and unexpected glaring lights can frighten them enough to cause unexpected, dangerous reactions. No wonder, as fireworks can be unpleasant for humans as well. To help you and your furry friends face the firework night as well as possible, we’ve come up with a few useful tips, in a convenient guide.
GUIDELINES FOR CATS AND DOGS
- Ideally, you should keep your pets inside for as long as the fireworks last. If, however, your dog lives outside and is not allowed in your house, keep in mind that he may end up jumping over the fence/wall to run away from the noise. And a dog running in panic in the middle of the street is a danger for himself and to others. To keep this from happening, make sure he can’t escape and that he’s equipped with an identification tag and with a microchip, so it can be identified should he get lost.
- Never tie your dog, as she can strangle herself with the rope or chain if she gets too scared.
- Cats should be taken inside a few hours before the fireworks start, so you can be sure they won’t be left outside. Dogs, on the other hand, should be taken for walks during the day, before the evening of the fireworks, as being outdoors relaxes them.
- Close curtains and balcony doors, to muffle down the noise and keep the glare out. Leave the TV or music on in the background, as it can help mask the noise of fireworks.
- Make sure your dog or cat has free access to a hiding place where they can feel safe (under the bed is OK). If she runs away to her hiding place, don’t try flushing her out, as she’d feel vulnerable and stressed. Leave her alone.
- If you have any objects that may break or hurt your pet if he gets too agitated, remove it.
- If your dog looks anxious and frightened, don’t comfort her or cuddle her too much, as she’ll think she’s right in being scared. Yelling at her if she does something wrong is a terrible idea, as it would only make her more agitated. Be nice and calm, behaving as if nothing overwhelming were happening, trying to let her know that there’s nothing to fear.
- At the first sign of anxiety, invite him to play and try to distract him from the fireworks with a toy he’s particularly fond of.
- For particularly sensitive dogs, the best solution is to remain in an “anti-firework-noise room”, perhaps, in a corner of the house in which the noise is less intense. Being confined to an enclosed area helps tranquilise your dog, as he has less area to keep under surveillance. It’s important to place some familiar items in the room (his cushion, blanket etc), as well as food and water, and toys to distract him and make him feel at home.
- If your dog gets scared easily, try not to leave him alone, if possible. If there’s nobody around to keep him company, the most effective solution is to prepare a safe room for him (see above), remembering to keep the curtains closed and music or TV on. You can also try diffusers with calming substances, such as pheromones or lavender essence.
BIRDS AND SMALL ANIMALS
We mustn’t forget pets such as hamsters, rabbits and birds, which are easily scared by loud noises. A few tips to protect them:
- If their cage is kept outside and cannot be brought inside, cover part of it with a canvas to reduce incoming noise and light, but be carefully not to block air circulation.
- Even cages normally kept inside should be partially covered. Better yet: take it to a room where the noise of the fireworks is less intense.
- In the case of birds, in particular, keep their cage away from balconies and windows.
- If you have a hamster or rabbit, provide him with extra nesting material, so he can feel more protected.
Let us not forget our pets during the holidays. They deserve a pleasant, serene New Year’s Eve.