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27 October 2018, 09:00 | Updated: 5 November 2018, 14:38
Classic FM has joined forces with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to broadcast its first ever programme dedicated to pets – and their owners.
On Saturday 3 November, to coincide with the busiest night for firework displays across the UK, Classic FM presenter and dog-lover Bill Turnbull hosted a special programme to help keep pets calm and relaxed during the noise and bright lights.
Classic FM’s Pet Sounds, presented in association with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, offers a perfect selection of the most soothing classical music to calm pets’ nerves and ease their anxiety throughout the evening.
The programme follows a recent study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow, which revealed that “music has a calming effect on dogs and that their stress levels decreased significantly after listening to music.”
Although firework displays are enjoyed up and down the country by millions of people, for pets they can be stressful and often terrifying.
Classic FM presenter Bill Turnbull said: “The programme has been specifically devised for pets – dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils – who may be upset or nervous on Fireworks Night and may need something to calm them down. This will be their radio refuge.
“The music we play on Classic FM is always relaxing, but what we’ve got lined up is even more chilled than usual and a lot of it will be pet-related. I’ve been very happily presenting to humans for the past two-and-a-half years on Classic FM, so hosting this show will be a pleasure and possibly a step up!”
The show also features dedications to listeners’ pets, plus advice from the Battersea team for any worried owners looking to reassure their animals.
Nathalie Ingham, Battersea’s Canine Behaviour and Training Manager said: “There is plenty of research on the positive effects classical music can have on emotions and feelings. We’ve been playing classical music to the dogs and cats at Battersea for many years as it can have a soothing and calming effect on them. It also reduces the impact of the loud sounds of fireworks. We’re regular listeners to Classic FM, it’s a particular favourite of ours.”
Read Battersea’s tips on how to keep your dog or cat calm this Bonfire Night:
1. Make sure your pet is microchipped and their details are up to date
Animals can flee when they get scared. If your pet does manage to run away from home while fireworks are going off, you can easily be reunited if they’re microchipped and their chip details are up to date. It’s also aa legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped.
2. Avoid letting your pet outdoors when fireworks are likely to go off
By keeping your pet indoors when fireworks are going off, it prevents them being caught out and from getting scared if they’re outside. Make sure you take your dog for a nice long walk before dark and provide litter trays for your cat.
3. Create a ‘safe space’ inside your home
If your pet is scared, they may take comfort in hiding away. If your dog is used to being in a crate, cover it and leave it open with blankets inside, or alternatively a table draped with a blanket can make a great retreat. For cats, if they normally hide in a specific place, make sure they have access and encourage them to use it with treats and toys. A box lined with blankets and with the opening slightly covered is ideal.
4. Don’t confine your pet to just one room
If your dog or cat becomes stressed, they may hurt themselves trying to get out, so allow them easy access to all safe areas of the house. Some animals may also be most comfortable curled up in their usual spot with you; let them do whatever suits them the best.
5. Keep the radio on
To reduce the sudden impact of the sound of fireworks, keep the radio or TV on. Playing certain types of music that don’t have a repetitive beat or any sudden loud noises, such as classical music, can be very calming for pets.
6. Keep your pet distracted with a treat
A new toy or treat can be a great way to distract your dog or cat from the noise. For cats, try something with catnip to keep them occupied, and for dogs try a long-chew toy or a Kong packed with tasty treats.
7. Act normally
Animals are very perceptive creatures, and if they notice you behaving strangely (like following them around and fussing over them) they’ll sense that something is wrong. If you show behave normally, it will show them that the fireworks are nothing to worry about it may help decrease their anxiety.
8. Avoid picking up your cat
If your cat is distressed, avoid picking them up to comfort them, as this could make them more stressed and provoke aggression. Cats also take a long time to calm down, so leave them until morning to settle before interacting with them again.
9. Keep your curtains closed
It may not just be the sound of fireworks that stress your pet - the flashes can worry them too. It’s important to make sure your curtains are closed and windows are covered to block out any sudden bursts of light.
10. If your pet is still stressed by fireworks following this advice, consider talking to your vet
A vet may be able to provide some medication to help reduce your pet’s anxiety. Bear in mind that any medicinal treatment should always be accompanied by a behaviour management plan and should only be used as a last resort.
Listen to Classic FM’s Pet Sounds on Saturday 3 November from 7pm to 9pm.