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Why can fireworks affect dogs and cats so much and how to help them deal with fear

In Spain, as soon as the good weather starts, the festivities begin. But as you may know, not all of us enjoy them with the same intensity. What can be a time of joy for us, can be a source of stress for our beloved furry friends. Dogs and cats, with their acute hearing sensitivity, suffer considerably when firecrackers and fireworks go off. If you are interested in why firecrackers affect dogs and cats so much, and what you can do to minimise the impact they have on your beloved pet, this article is for you.

Hearing sensitivity of dogs and cats

As you may know, dogs and cats have a much more developed sense of hearing than humans. While humans can hear sounds in the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, dogs can pick up frequencies between 40 and 60,000 Hz, and cats between 48 and 85,000 Hz. This ability allows them to detect very faint, high-frequency sounds, such as the squeak of a mouse several metres away or the soft rustle of leaves in the wind. However, it also means that loud noises, such as firecrackers, are much more intense and disturbing to them. A firecracker that is simply annoying to us may sound like a deafening explosion to a dog, and to a cat it may sound like an unbearable roar, causing them extreme fear and stress.

Fear of loud noises

Fear of loud noises is a natural survival response in many animals. Sudden and unexpected sounds, such as firecrackers, can trigger a ” run or fight ” reaction in our companions. This reaction manifests itself in behaviours such as trembling, whining, excessive barking, seeking shelter, escape attempts and even destructive behaviour. In extreme cases, intense fear can lead to health problems such as tachycardia, excessive salivation and loss of sphincter control.

Strategies to minimise fear and stress

Thankfully, there are a number of strategies that can help minimise the impact of firecrackers on our beloved animals:

  • Create a safe shelter: Provide your dog/cat with a safe and cosy place where he/she can take refuge. This can be a quiet room, a carrier crate covered with blankets or an enclosed space where he feels protected. Place his bedding, toys and items that smell like him to help him feel more comfortable.
  • Stay calm: Your behaviour influences your furry friend’s behaviour. Stay calm and act normal during celebrations. Avoid overly comforting your furry friend, as this can reinforce her fear. Instead, reward her for calm and relaxed behaviour.
  • Use of pheromones and calming products: There are specific products on the market, such as pheromone diffusers, calming collars and natural supplements that can help reduce anxiety in dogs and cats. Consult your vet to find the best option.
  • White noise and soothing music: Play soft music or white noise to mask the sound of firecrackers. This will create a calmer atmosphere and can dampen the impact of external noise.
  • Anti-anxiety medication: In extreme cases, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help your companion cope with stress. This is a last resort, should always be used under veterinary supervision and only when other strategies have not been effective.

Ultimately…

Firecracker parties can be a real nightmare for our best friends, but with a proactive and understanding approach, we can help them cope with the fear and stress. Understanding the reason behind their fear and applying the right strategies can make a huge difference to our dogs’ and cats’ quality of life during these celebrations. Remember, your support and reassurance are essential for them. 🐈🐕

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