1. Make a safety den
Preparing your pet for the fireworks season can help them cope and you can do that by providing a space for them to hide in. Build a den in a quiet area of your house and let them access it at all times leading up to the fireworks. Cover the den with blankets, pillows and cushions to exclude as much noise as possible. Here’s to the fun part! Spend some time every day with your pet inside the den to make sure they realise it’s a safe space where they’re protected. A tip to make the den feel extra safe: Play a re-corded track of firework noises in the background (you can find playlists on the internet)while you give them lots of cuddles to show them it’s safe in the den and perhaps some treats to praise them for using the den / staying calm. This will train them to associate the area with positive experiences too.
2. Think nutrition
Processed food packed full of additives has the same impact on pets as it does on us - driving low moods, irritability and anxiety. To find out what kind of food you’re giving your furry friend, look closely at the labelling. ‘Dried meat’ and ‘animal derivative’ often means a concentrate of low-nutrition offal that has undergone an industrial drying process (often called rendering). Look out for phrases such as ‘dried chicken’ and ‘meat meal’ in the list of ingredients. As well as sticking to clean sources of quality meat, a few other ingredients have been linked to the alleviation of anxiety, including blueberries, kale, beef, oily fish and turkey. It’s a good idea to get your pet into a routine in advance, to maximise the mood-benefits of proper food.
3. Give your cat space (if they need it)
Most cats love small, confined spaces like a safety den because it makes them feel comfortable and comforted there. However, if your cat is feeling stressed, picking them up or cuddling them can make them more fearful. By giving them space, you're letting them digest and tackle the situation on their own term. When they are ready, they will come to you and you can show them all the love. With that being said, some cats will seek your affection and will guide you on how to comfort them.
4. Tire them out
We all know how much more settled a dog is after they’ve had a good run around. On the day you’re expecting fireworks, take your dog out for at least one long walk during the day. Let them explore and play and take them on a sniffing safari. Once you get home, reward them with a nutritious meal and prepare to settle in for the night.
5. Wrap them up
If you’re planning on taking your dog out with you during the fireworks, make sure you have a lead and plenty of treats to create positive feelings. You can even dress them in an ‘anxiety wrap’, also known as a Thundershirt. This is a ‘coat’ style wrap that has been proven to soothe anxiety because it creates gentle pressure on the body, a bit like a big, long hug.
6. Close your curtains
Not only do the loud noises from the fireworks stress your cat out but all the constant flashes of lights can too. Unfamiliar flashes on display close by can make your cat feel anxious and stressed. Consider closing your curtains or covering the windows with blinds to block out the flashes. This will also make the room feel a bit more cosy and safe.