It’s Christmas time and what’s the biggest event that comes right after? Hug your furry babies, because here comes the New Year with a BANG! What may be an exciting firework display for us humans can be a nightmarish experience for our beloved pets at home. As many pet owners may have experienced during the New Year, dogs or any other animals in your home may often try to hide, run around with no direction, or tremble in fear when they hear fireworks.
Yes, firework phobia is a real thing for all animals residing in your home and this is because of their incredible sensitivity to sound and smell. The loud sound of the fireworks are deafening, the smell of the smoke (which is enhanced for them) is suffocating, and the bright flashes of lights just add to the flare of the unknown for our terrified pets at home. And even if your pet is safe indoors, hearing the extremely loud sound made by fireworks results in fear, trauma, and death.
It’s impossible to stop fireworks, so how can we help our furry babies cope with the coming of the New Year? Here are some steps to help them get comfortable:
1. Keep your pets indoors.
If your dogs or any other animal reside outside, bring them indoors and inside a room. In that room, play music or turn on the television to distract them from the explosive sounds outside.
2. Shut the curtains and doors.
This will minimize the sound of the fireworks outside. Closing the curtains will also prevent your pet from seeing the flashes of light that would alarm them.
3. Be there for your pet.
Any pets look to their humans for security. Dogs, for example, are pack animals and they see you as their safe haven. Be there for your pet and if they are panicking, remain calm and speak with a soothing voice. Do not yell at them, for it will only make them more nervous.
Now, some people would tie up their dog to prevent them from running around the room. If you do, you have to stay with your dog and monitor them so they won’t accidentally strangle themselves with their own leash.
4. Cuddle your pet.
Cuddling reduces stress for both humans and dogs because it increases the level of oxytocin in the blood and decreases cortisol. Oxytocin is the ‘love hormone’ which helps develop love and maternal trust between you and your pet, while cortisol is a stress hormone.
5. Play with your pet.
If your pet is the active type, you can distract your pet by playing his or her favorite game.
6. Get your pet a pressure wrap or create your own.
An anxiety wrap or vest gently hugs the body of your pet in specific areas to help calm them down and get rid of their anxiety. You can purchase them online. However, if you do not have the access or the budget, you can wrap your pet using a scarf or a long piece of fabric. Some people use this technique when they would bring their dogs to the vet to help calm them down in what feels like an everlasting hug.
7. Soundproof your pet travel crate.
Give your pets their own space by giving them their own little hiding place to escape to when they’re scared. Dogs like hiding in small, dark places, like a cave. You can purchase soundproof sheets, acoustic foam panels, acoustic panes, or acoustic baffles to place inside their crate or travel crate so that when they run into it, the sound will lessen coming from the outside. All the soundproof materials can be found online.
If you don’t have time to soundproof the crate, you can place soft beddings inside, your own shirts so they can smell your scent, or their toys so they can feel extra comfortable.
8. Make sure they have food and water available.
Nervous dogs will become more dehydrated, so make sure they have water available and food to munch on. Like humans, dogs like to snack when they get nervous.