According to new research, it's estimated 82% of Britain's cats and dog find fireworks distressing, so many owners may not be looking forward to this weekend.
Fortunately, MORE TH>N Insurance have come up with a calming solution and launched the world's first films for dogs and cats, scientifically designed to reduce stress. The two films, entitled Woofering Heights and Peer Window, include the unmistakable voice of David Tennant as the soothing narrator.
Owners watching the films may find them abstract and surreal but according to scientific insights, they will be highly compelling for their intended four-pawed audience. The insurance provider worked closely with animal behaviourist Karen Wild and veterinary expert Robert White-Adams throughout the making of both films to ensure they stayed true to research and have the potential to counter the effects of noise phobia.
Pet behavioural expert Karen Wild said, "Noise phobia in cats and dogs can lead to distress, injury and long-term behavioural problems, so it’s important for pet owners that they do as much as they can to help calm and relax their animals. These films may seem strange to humans, but it’s important to realise that cats and dogs do not perceive the world in the same way we do and will respond to completely different audio and visual stimuli. Hopefully these films, in conjunction with other veterinary-approved measures, can have a positive effect on cats and dogs that suffer from noise phobia."
George Lewis, head of pet insurance at MORE TH>N, commented, "For us if a film sends the audience to sleep it’s generally regarded as a sign that it’s a bad film. However, creating a soporific state is the exact intention of the films for cats and dogs. At MORE TH>N we understand the consequences of noise phobia for pets and at no other time of the year is this issue more prevalent than during the fireworks season, with four in every five cats and dogs reportedly affected. Our intention with these films is to create something practical for worried owners to use to calm their cats and dogs. Tried and tested with pets and their owners, these films have the potential to reduce the stress pets experience around Bonfire Night when loud fireworks are in full flow."
The film for dogs incorporates slowly moving pastoral scenery, a cast of sedentary dogs and the relaxing lilt of David Tennant delivering an Emily Bronte-inspired narration to calm canines. The film has also been shot entirely in a dog’s colour spectrum of blues and yellows – heightening the viewing experience for them.
Vet Robert White-Adams added, "Noise phobia is a very common problem we encounter in veterinary practices. In addition to the well-documented issues caused by fireworks, we see problems caused by vacuum cleaners, building work, traffic noise, sirens and crashing and banging outside. These problems are mainly associated with dogs but more and more we’re seeing problems with cats too. Anything we can do to move their attention away from what’s scaring them to something more calming and relaxing is a valuable tool to have."
The films are designed to be played to your pet several times in the days leading up to the fifth of November, so they become familiar with the content. The films loop after the credits as the calming effect is best felt through repetition.
Both films are free and available on YouTube for owners to watch.
Watch Woofering Heights
Watch Peer Window
Tips from vet Robert White-Adams
In addition to the films, Robert has provided his advice to owners for firework season
- Take your dog outside during the day and exercise them so they are tired. As with humans, physical exercise induces endorphin release, which amongst other things has a potent anti-anxiety effect.
- About an hour before expected fireworks give your dog/cat a medium sized normal meal. The feeling of satiety carries a potent natural anti-anxiety effect.
- Move your pet to the area of the house in which you believe they feel most at home.
- Cover the windows and doors, and turn on lights – you are aiming to reduce the impact and awareness of light flashes outside.
- Put on some background music at a moderate volume – preferably music with a constant and distracting bass or beat. You are aiming to reduce the startling impact of crashes, bangs and whistles from outside.
- If your pet is awake and active, try and distract them with gentle, calm play.
Credit: MORE TH>N