Pets, both dogs and cats, are extremely sensitive animals. Even though most of them are happy, extroverted creatures looking forward to spending time with their owners and participating in their fun activities, the continued sudden noise and flashing lights from fireworks during our many celebrations can often result in our furry friends developing severe anxiety, with them being visibly scared, trying to find solace and safety in our arms or even away from us, hiding under furniture.
This fear and anxiety can also lead to pets running away from home, trying to escape the noise. Celebrations and fireworks are one of the top times when owners report missing pets.
A phobia of noise is a common phenomenon seen in both cats and dogs. Irrespective of their age, it is always better to prepare them (and yourself) for such upcoming events.
It’s always better to not take risks and keep your pets indoors during any kind of firework display. Even if your house comes with a backyard or a garden, the safest place for your fur buddy to be would be inside the four walls of their home where they can feel safe and warm.
Make sure all the cracks and crevices in your house are locked and secured. Double-check the doors, indoors, and doggy/kitty doors, as well. While the first response of dogs is to hide, cats are more likely to try and escape, therefore your first point of action should be to make sure that your pets are not able to crawl out through some unnoticed space.
Hiding from the loud noises and flashing lights can make many animals feel as if they were away from the grasp of anything dangerous. These spots are what they are most likely to access when the first batch of anxiety and fear hits. Their hiding spot need not be any complicated forts, but even a plain cardboard box placed in their favourite spot or draping a throw blanket or bedsheet over a laundry bag/ basket can also act as a great hiding spot.
However, it is also important to remember, that at a time like this, your pet would not be extremely considerate of your efforts and might just choose a spot that feels the safest to them. In such cases, it’s best to just keep an eye out for them, and let them be.
Keeping your pets in small spaces such as a locked room can in turn increase their anxiety and fear as they do not see any escape route. It is better to keep them somewhere where they can see turns which can be used as an escape (even if it is to another room).
Turn on the TV, radio, or speakers to try and cover up the deafening sounds of the fireworks as much as possible. Choose sounds that your pets are responsive towards such as the chirping of birds, ocean waves, heavy rain, etc.
Before the fireworks even begin, it is best to keep plenty of treats handy. You can also keep over-the-counter calming treats readily available in your home in case your pets’ anxiety worsens. These treats usually contain C3 Calming Complex, L-theanine, thiamine, chamomile, and other stress-reducing ingredients. However, before purchasing them, it is best to consult your veterinarian just in case your pet turns out to be allergic to any of the ingredients.
Before trying to calm your pet with physical affection, it is best to test the water and check whether they are receptive towards it. Different pets have different reactions, however, we would avoid suggesting picking them up, to not make them feel as if they’re trapped. If they seem to be receptive towards physical affection, try showering them with pats and scratches and check for their response.
Distracting them with television is almost always a great idea. Try playing a video of birds, mice, or other small animals running around which might turn their attention from the neighbouring noise to the prey that they might catch.
Both cats and dogs use smell to familiarise themselves with their surroundings. At a time of stress, these calming pheromones would are one of the best ways to help your pets acclimatise to what’s going around them. You can use a diffuser or spray the scent into their hiding space, so they feel safe.
The worst-case scenario would be your cat escaping, therefore it is best to make sure that they are microchipped and that all details on the system are updated. Many people believe that microchipping is not necessary for indoor cats, but as we know, cats are naturally curious creatures and hence, it’s always best to stay on the safer side.