Happy New Year everyone! For some of us, New Year’s Eve is a great night spent with loved ones, celebrating & toasting what’s to come in 2017. It can be an exciting yet anticipating time as we farewell 2016 and welcome 2017 into our lives. However, for some it is a very stressful night that can cause terror, panic and anxiety. I am of course talking about our animals experience, with the type of celebrations people enjoy. Fireworks!!! Whether they are launched in the city or in your streets, the noise and light of fireworks is enough to send any animal into a frenzied state. Australia Day is coming so brace yourself.
We as humans are excited and exhilarated by the exceptional display. If only that were true for our animals. I am sure many of you have experienced this panic first hand, or the aftermath when you finally return home. Some of you may be totally unaware of the terrifying moments your pet went through while you were out. Perhaps, it is time to step into your animal’s perspective to truly understand what they go through.
It is quiet and dark. You are lying on your bed beside the backdoor. Just as you start to fall asleep, you hear an explosion. You jump up – you look around confused, what was that? You hear it again, you duck your head but nothing comes at you. You start to see different coloured lights flash across the sky. Your head darting from side to side as they flash from all directions. You hear another explosion, and this time it does not stop. It is too much for you to bear, your very survival is being threatened.
You scratch and jump frantically at the back door frantically, it is imperative you get in. You need help! Nobody hears you. No-one comes to your aid. Your people are not at home. You must get away! It is a matter of life or death. You are panting profusely and your heart is beating a hole through your chest. The explosions are relentless, you run to the back fence and start digging frantically until you make a hole big enough to get through. You squeeze under the fence and begin to run, and run and run. You don’t care where you are going, you just need to get away!
Running past houses, you don’t remember crossing the road, everything is a blur. After running for what seems like a lifetime and being followed by these flashes and explosions you finally find a bush under which to hide and get shelter, to work out your next move. All of a sudden it all stops, it is quiet. You huddle in a ball as you brace for more, but it doesn’t come. There is no way you are coming out until you are sure it is safe.
After several minutes you slowly creep out with just your front paws and head exposed. You tentatively sniff the air, and it smells like burnt wood. You take a couple of deep breathes while you try to gather yourself. You look around, and realise you are in unfamiliar surroundings. You inch out until you are fully standing, and a new terror grips your body. Which way is home???
Did you know that animal emergency hospitals receive more lost animals during Christmas and New Years celebrations, than any other time of year? Solely due to fireworks! I have spoken with many owners about keeping their animals inside, most are unaware of why this is so necessary and many others are worried they may make a mess in the house. Personally, I would rather my animal make a mess in the house than to discover they are lost or worse, killed by a car. Our animals are our world, and whilst we understand that these fireworks are not harmful, our animals do not see them this way. Animals are very sensitive and even the vibration of the fireworks escalates through their body. We act the same way in times of terrorism. If you heard an explosion very close to you, and could feel it rock your surroundings you would duck for cover as well. You also would not feel safe until the authorities, whether police or the news assured you it was not harmful or was now under control. Unfortunately your animals don’t have that luxury.
If you want to know what your animal’s experience of fireworks is? Contact us
Now that you are all aware of what these poor animals go through, I know you are asking what can we do to help prevent this occurring?
Here are several tips below that can help make it easier for your animal:
- LEAVE YOUR ANIMALS INSIDE. I cannot emphasise this point enough; leaving your animal inside whilst you are out, could mean their lives or that you may never see them again. A mess is the least of your worries.
- Play firework or thunderstorm music at a low volume often in your home over a period of time to help desensitise your animals. This can work for all types of animals. Reassure them as they begin to show signs of stress, initially and also distract them with playtime or toys. This will create positivity around these noises. As they get used to the noise, you can increase the volume until they are more and more relaxed with loud noises.
- On the day of the event, if you have a dog take them out for a long outing, perhaps to the beach, the park, for a really long walk. If you have a cat, play together with their favourite toys or string, or hunting games. You want to use up as much energy as possible before night falls. Give them a couple of drops of Bach’s Rescue remedy in there water from the night before and a couple of drops under their tongue before you go out. For cats and other animals you can place a couple of drops on their skin.
- Feed your animals early. Stress and anxiety can have an effect on your animal’s digestive system; feeding them earlier allows them to digest in a relaxed state. Maybe give them their favourite food that day!
- When the fireworks are occurring, your animals may hide under the furniture, try to get through the door, or push themselves into a corner. Give your animal a quiet and dark place to hide inside. Covering your animals’ eyes and ears with a light towel or sheet really helps too.
- Your animals will simply want you around – whether it is sitting on top of you or having you nearby, your relaxed presence will make a big difference for them. The more relaxed you are, the more you can help them.
Perhaps it is more important, as it is for me to be with my animals when there are fireworks scheduled than go out. They need you!
For those people who do it locally try to have a though for others before you decide to light up a fireworks display in your area. Your animals and your neighbour’s animals are worth a lot more than a pretty light display, don’t you think?