For many people across the country, dazzling fireworks in the sky are the highlight of any New Year’s Eve celebration.
But for dogs, it’s not so fun. Fireworks can scare them, causing crippling anxiety and stress for our canine friends. Sadly, as every new year dawns, we see an increase in the number of dogs going missing and some never make it back home to their families.
Why do fireworks scare your dog?
There are two big reasons why New Year’s Eve fireworks frighten your dog:
- A dog’s hearing is a lot more sensitive than ours. Nature has designed their ears to be able to detect much quieter noises in their surroundings than we can. As a result, loud noises sound twice as loud to them as they do to us, and this can be harmful to their hearing.
- When we humans watch and hear fireworks, we know exactly what is happening and why. We are not alarmed and don’t feel afraid. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t understand what is going on. Your dog is likely to be wondering “what are those scary noises?” and “are they going to hurt me?” In nature, loud sounds are often the sign of danger approaching.
The psychological impact of fireworks on your dog
Noise anxiety is real – and it’s the fear of noises in one’s environment. Many dogs suffer from this particular type of anxiety, making fireworks incredibly triggering for them.
In addition, dogs can suffer from panic attacks, just as humans do. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense, debilitating fear or anxiety that is accompanied by physical symptoms that can affect the whole body. For these reasons, it is crucial to take steps to protect our dogs’ safety during the new year period.
Tips to protect your dog on New Year’s Eve
Carly from Superwoofers is a puppy and dog trainer in Hobart. She has some great tips on how to keep dogs safe during fireworks, some of which we have included below:
- Keep your dogs indoors. In their panic, many dogs who are left outside will instinctively want to run from the scary noises and may escape the backyard. If you can, stay inside with your dog when you know that there will be fireworks. Draw the curtains, and put on the TV or play some music to drown out the noise.
- Talk to your vet about CBD oil. When sourced and administered under the guidance of a veterinarian, CBD oil can help manage the anxiety and panic attacks that pets can feel as a result of fireworks. CBD works by interacting with your dog’s endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating your pet’s mood – making it a natural adjunct therapy to help with stress and anxiety.
- Create a safe space. Making a den isn’t just for kids – our dogs can really love them too. Creating a secure, enclosed space will make your pup feel more safe. This could be a quiet room in the house with the curtains closed, a hidden nook, or a pet carrier – somewhere familiar that they associate with comfort and safety. Deck out the den with their favourite toys and bed, and add an extra layer of bedding so they can easily hide away when they’re feeling frightened.
- Do walkies in daylight. Exercise your dog earlier in the day to avoid being outside when fireworks are set off. A walk also has the benefit of helping your dog feel more relaxed and in the mood for sleep. After the walk, providing enrichment like treat scatters and games can keep their minds occupied and distracted.
- Comfort your dog. It’s a myth that comforting your dog during times of stress will reward the behaviour and make them more fearful. In fact, the opposite is true. The feeling of security is mutually exclusive to feeling fearful. If your dog is seeking comfort, please provide it.
- Make a plan if you go out. If you won’t be at home, plan ahead and consider asking a friend or family member to come over and spend time with your dog. That way, it won’t feel like a big change of routine for your pet. Especially if they’re used to you being around all the time.
- Ensure their microchip and ID collar are up to date. This is a ‘just in case’ – but it’s absolutely paramount. Many dogs go missing on New Year’s Eve, so make sure this information is correct so that your dog can be easily traced and brought back home to you.
With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, now is the time to plan and take steps to protect your furbaby.
If you’re looking for a plant-based therapy that can help manage your dog’s fear, anxiety and panic during fireworks, contact CBD Vets Australia on [email protected] or (02) 8294 9303 to chat through your options.