Seven tips to keep your pet calm during fireworks
With New Year's Eve quickly approaching an animal expert is arming us with tips to help our pets cope with the upcoming fireworks.
According to animal ecologist Dr Joy Tripovich, it's not uncommon for dogs and cats to be scared or a little stressed when it comes to the loud noises.
"Dogs might show you they’re not coping by shaking, panting, freezing, or even running away," she says.
"Fear signals can be subtler in cats, but often involve hiding until the noise passes."
Dr Tripovich says it’s important not to feel helpless with all these triggers heading your pet’s way, with a bit of patience and care, there are ways you can help them get through it.
"These panicked reactions can be completely normal," she says.
“Fireworks are quite loud and explosive, for an animal, that's quite scary."
Dr Tripovich says fireworks are one of the most-reported causes of fear in our pets.
Weathering the noise
A fear of storms and fireworks might be natural for your pet, it doesn't have to be the norm, according to Dr Tripovich.
Dr Tripovich says we should support our pets as much as possible during these episodes.
“Long-term stress can be dangerous for our pets,” she says.
“It can lead to conditions such as skin infections, stomach upsets, and can ultimately shorten an animal's life.”
There’s one key thing that pet owners shouldn’t do when their pets are stressed.
“We definitely shouldn't yell at or punish our pets when they're having such a strong reaction,” she says.
Tips on helping your pet cope
1. Make sure they can’t flee
Pets often try to run away during fireworks, so it's important to make sure they can’t get out.
“You don't want them getting out on the road, so make sure the fence or gate is secure,” she says.
2. Provide a safe space for your pet
Give your pet a safe space at home and make it feel even safer by obstructing the noises in some way, for example by playing TV or calming music.
3. Try to tire them out beforehand
If you know fireworks or storms are coming, it can help to first tire out your pet with exercise.
4. Stay calm
Pets tend to feed off our cues, but if we’re present and calm during the firework episode, we can help reassure them there’s nothing to worry about.
5. Desensitise them
Desensitising your pet to the stimuli can be another useful stress management technique.
You can do this by playing firework sounds while your pet is in a good mood – perhaps while enjoying a bone or treat – and in a safe, comfortable environment.
6. Train them young, if you can
"Early exposure with no negative association is good training for our pets,” says Dr Tripovich.
7. If their fear is strong, see your vet
Lastly, Dr Tripovich says to never forget your first port of call when it comes to your pet’s health, their vet.
“Long term stress is unhealthy, so if your pet is having such a strong reaction to these events, I suggest speaking to your vet,” she says.
“There are a number of other measures that the vet might suggest, for example, pheromones, anti-anxiety medication, or thunderstorm jackets.”