New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest nights for fireworks, loud parties and celebration across the world – but that can mean hours of anguish and upset for your pets.
However, there are some simple and effective ways to keep your dogs and other animals calm and happy throughout the colourful displays.
In the same way pets can get upset during loud storms, they also tend to hate fireworks.
While animals have more sensitive hearing than humans – often picking up sounds none of us can hear – the bright and flashing lights prove to be a sensory overload for them too.
They don’t understand why there is loud banging and continuous flashing lights, and it can even cause nervous reactions in the future if something triggers their strong emotional memory.
So why not ease the pain and follow these simple steps to make the New Year enjoyable for the whole household?
Taking dogs on a long walk, or exercising cats and other animals, earlier in the day helps tire them out ahead of a fireworks night.
Tiring them can help them sleep more deeply and make them less alert to their surroundings.
Animals, particularly dogs, often like to retreat to small spaces when they’re scared or upset, so creating a cosy den for them provides them with an easy and comforting escape route.
Animals have been known to hide under tables, or even climb into baths, when they’re nervous.
Lining a small area with blankets or putting their bed in a smaller, enclosed space, gives them some added comfort.
It may seem obvious, but it’s important not to expose animals to fireworks by taking them to displays with you.
Keeping them inside reduces sounds and visual stimuli which cause nervous reactions.
They are also more likely to feel comfortable at home in familiar surroundings.
Drawing curtains and pulling down blinds reduces flashing lights and other visuals which make a pet feel uncomfortable.
While sound can be largely unavoidable, by reducing visual triggers, it makes the experience less scary for an animal.
It’s always best to have a human presence at home during fireworks, particularly if they’re close by, but if it’s not possible – there are a few tips to create an illusion of your own presence.
Scattering some clothes you’ve worn recently in a pet’s den or bed can give them the illusion you’re close by, with a strong smell of you surrounding them.
While some TV channels may add to a pet’s distress, turning the radio on to a classical music channel, or the TV on to a similar option, helps drown out louder bangs outside.
A continuous and soothing sound helps pets relax and even drop off to sleep.
Most animals, especially dogs and cats, are easily distracted when offered a treat or food.
By leaving out some food-stuffed treats such as Kongs or other toys, they have an alternative option to focus on when the fireworks begin.
Just like it can calm humans, a diffuser and light scent does the same for your pets.
Plugging in a herbal diffuser or pheromones provides a comfortable atmosphere at your home while you’re out.
Some pets can get over-anxious, even when you’re beside them, so if you’re worried in the following days, it’s worth contacting your vet.
There are sedatives and anti-anxiety medications on offer to help them relax, but you’ll need a prescription and expert advice on what your pet needs.
Other sensory enrichment methods can also be offered to calm animals in the most extreme of circumstances.