Studies show that interactions with therapy animals can decrease stress in humans. Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. With 5 November around the corner I thought I would share some safety tips for pets and animals to reduce their stress on Guy Fawkes night.
Remember that firecrackers are dangerous and safety is essential. Crackers should only be used outdoors in an open space and they should be lit one at a time. If the device doesn’t ignite, don’t stand over it or try to relight it – instead, douse it thoroughly with water.
There are restrictions as to where you are allowed to light crackers, make sure you are within legal limits and check the wind direction before lighting fireworks.
People are capable of understanding that the noises on Guy Fawkes are temporary and unlikely to be harmful, but pets can often become terrified and disoriented!
Here are some tips to keep animals calm and fear-free:
Preparing pets for fireworks (or thunderstorms):
- One of the most important things is to provide companionship. Try to stay at home with your pet if fireworks or thunderstorms are expected.
- Keep pets indoors.
- Make sure dogs get plenty of exercise earlier in the day.
- Close all windows, curtains and doors where possible to block out flashing lights and loud sounds.
- Provide toys, treats and other distractions to keep pets occupied.
- Make sure your pet is micro-chipped or appropriately tagged for easy identification if they become lost.
How to calm an anxious or scared pet:
- Turn on music or the television to muffle the sounds, but nothing too loud. It works best when the music or television is on well before the thunderstorm or fireworks start, preferably when the dog is already relaxed.
- Don’t fuss over or punish pets if they become agitated with the sounds; doing so only makes the behaviour worse.
- Act calm and stress-free so that your pet’s fear doesn’t mirror your own, they are sensitive to emotion.
- Allow the pet to hide in a safe place if they choose, such as a blanket lined cupboard. When scared of sounds they can’t pinpoint, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas.
- If pets runs to hide in a corner or under the bed, don’t try to coax them out, let them stay where it feels safe.