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While fireworks may make for pretty viewing, pets often get frightened by the loud noises and bangs fireworks cause. Our four-legged friends can get very distressed, but there are steps owners can take to make their pets feel a bit calmer on nights when fireworks are likely to be set off.
Animal charity Blue Cross has urged people not to let off fireworks this New Year’s Eve, due to the impact these sounds can have on our beloved pets.
A survey by the charity found most people (70 percent) believe fireworks should be banned in the UK, apart from at organised events.
Additionally, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of dog and cat owners surveyed were concerned for their pet’s welfare this firework season.
Blue Cross’s Head of Behaviour, Ryan Neile, said: “These results have laid bare the extent of suffering so many of the nation’s pets go through for days and weeks at a time every single year.
“That’s why we are pleading with people to think about their own actions this New Year’s Eve and consider ditching setting off loud fireworks, which leave many pets literally shaking in fear, for other celebrations.”
Due to their sensitive hearing, dogs can find the loud noises fireworks make very distressing.
Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust, said: “Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them.
“Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs.
“There are lots of things dog owners can do to help make fireworks less stressful for their dogs.
“Simple steps such as providing safe spaces for them to hide or settling them before the fireworks start can make a big difference.
“We would also urge anyone thinking of putting on their own fireworks display to consider the welfare of their four-legged friends and others in the neighbourhood by following our Firework Dog Code.”
Tips for keeping dogs calm this New Year’s Eve
The Dog’s Trust advice for dog owners on dealing with fireworks is as follows:
- Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.
- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
- Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape.
- Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help them cope with the noise.
- Provide a safe hiding place – make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, perhaps under a table. Close curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out firework noises.
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Advice for people wishing to host a private display:
- Let your neighbours know well in advance, so they can prepare their dogs.
- Limit your display to 30 minutes or less.
- Opt for quieter, lower decibel fireworks.
Wood Green, The Animals Charity, also told Express.co.uk walking dogs before fireworks start can help to reduce stress for pets.
The charity said: “If you know your dog is afraid of fireworks, be sure to take them out for a walk and feed them before the festivities begin.
“Close the curtains and put the radio or tv on for background noise to minimise the outdoor lights and sounds.
“If your dog is showing signs of fear during the display – such as yawning, lip licking, paw lifting, hiding, pacing, growling and/or shaking – make sure you have a place for them to hide and feel safe.
“If they come out to you, praise them for being brave. Keep your voice calm – it’s okay to be affectionate and soothe them, but you should ideally ‘change the subject’ so that fireworks
become something positive.
“Give them a special treat or chew to keep them busy, or distract them with a play or training session.
“Similarly, it’s best to bring your cat inside and make your home feel as safe and comfortable as possible with closed curtains, background noise, hiding places and an indoor litter tray.
“With cats, it’s more useful to act normal rather than to try and reassure them. If your pet becomes extremely anxious, speak to your vet.
“They can recommend some at-home therapies and supplements to ease their symptoms.”
Cats Protection state loud bangs and bright lights can cause anxiety for cats, so owners may consider keeping curtains closed and using a calming pheromone plug-in diffuser to help them calm down.
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