Generally, animals and fireworks do not go hand in hand. The loud noise blasting through their ears and the flashing lights of the fireworks can be quite scary for your pet. Pets, especially dogs, have a heightened sense of hearing and the loud crackles, whistles or booming frightens them. Since they ignite at different intervals without any warnings, pets cannot get used to the idea of fireworks.
The fear puts them under stress and anxiety, which not only lowers their spirit but can also have adverse effects on their physical and mental health. Hiding in the strangest spots, pacing around or crying during fireworks can worry you too as a pet parent. To help you keep your little pooch calm and at ease, here are some ways to handle their anxiety during the season of fireworks:
Effective Ways to Handle Noise Anxiety in Pets
Keep Fireworks Away- Goes without saying, keep your pets away from fireworks. Avoid burning firecrackers, and if you still plan on indulging them, make sure it is away from your house to minimise the noise as much as you can. You can soundproof your house by shutting all the doors and windows. Use pillows, earmuffs and blankets to further block the noise.
All Fours Should Be Indoors- As tempting as it is to take them outside to enjoy the festival with you, going out is not an option for your pets. Keep them within the calm walls of indoors. Get their daily walk in the morning, when there is likely no sight of fireworks. Just the knowledge of being safe in the house can be quite calming, which brings us to the next tip.
A Safe Space- Like anyone else, animals seek refuge when they feel threatened. Create a safe haven that is only for your dog. Cozy up the place with your pet’s favourite toys, blanket, and familiar objects with your smell on them to offer an extra layer of reassurance. Choose the least noisy corner of the house and help them make the place their own.
Music and TV to the Rescue- It is nearly impossible to shut out the sounds entirely, the least you can do is try ways to cover it. Play soothing music, use noises familiar to them or the subtle hum of the air-conditioner to keep them at ease. Classical music is proven to have calming effects on dogs. Additionally, you can turn up the television volume and use it to their advantage by putting on a good movie.
Food Can Never Go Wrong- When in doubt, go for food. Food gives an unmatched sense of comfort, especially when it comes in the form of their favourite treats. While treats can be used as a distraction, rewarding your furry friend with a treat will help reduce their anxiety and keep them from chewing on other items around the house. Stock up on their preferred treats and keep them handy.
Consider Working With a Trainer- The instilled fear can have a negative impact on your pet’s life. Solve the roots of the problem by working with a professional best suited for your pet’s needs. Expert trainers tackle this issue by desensitizing your pet to fireworks and other fears gradually, one after the other. A set up with an expert who understands how to introduce the stimuli and work with it in a controlled environment is a good idea to start with. If you think it is too late for this year, it is never too soon to start planning for the next year!
Talk to Your Vet- Consult your vet in case the situation is more than you can handle. The vet may identify if your pet has severe anxiety issues and prescribe a medication and behaviour management plan. Remember that anti-anxiety pills are not good for your pet, so do not give them medication unless you get a green signal from your vet.
Love and Affection- In times of distress, being held is all one needs. Be present and attend to your pet’s needs. Reassure them through kind words and acts of affection. Shower them with cuddles and kisses to reduce their anxiety. Make them feel safe within the warmth of your arms to remind them you are here in their time of need. Sometimes, that is all it takes.
Swaddle Your Pooch with Calming Wraps- Swaddling can decrease anxiety in dogs. Pressure wraps, like t-shirts, vests, thick towels apply soft pressure to your dog’s torso and give them a snuggly feeling. You can buy these readymade anxiety wraps from the market or make a DIY version at your home.
Make Fireworks Sound More Familiar- Before the start of Diwali, you can play audio recordings of fireworks to desensitize your dog to the noise. Start playing this audio at a low volume, slowly increase the volume and act like nothing is happening. In this way, you can familiarise and train your pup to stay calm amidst the loud sounds of fireworks.
Since muting the loud noise for our little friends is not an option, thank goodness for these alternatives! These effective ways to reduce anxiety will save you the worry and your pooch some anxiety and stress, if not all. Wishing you and your beloved fido a very happy and healthy Diwali!