Dogs to be given aromatherapy and ASMR to ease their anxiety around New Year's Eve fireworks

Jessica Carpani
Dogs prepare for fireworks on New Years Eve at Battersea Dogs home - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

Aromatherapy and ASMR craze will be used to help ease dogs' anxiety around fireworks this New Year's Eve. 

Each year, the RSPCA is inundated with calls about pets suffering anxiety and stress following mass firework displays across the country. 

Since 2014 they have received 2,285 in England and Wales related to concerns about animal welfare and fireworks  – with 411 calls made last year when roughly 70,000 fireworks were set off during the London display on New Year’s Eve 2018, which lasted just over 10 minutes.

But this year, as pet-owners gear up to endure the displays as the country rings in the New Year, alternative methods are being used to manage animal’s stress levels. 

Battersea Dogs home said they use aromatherapy sprays, to relax their cats and dogs over the noisy period. 

A Battersea spokesperson said: “Currently at Battersea, we use a number of methods to help keep our animals calm during fireworks seasons. 

“These include providing places to hide, playing calming classical music and blocking out windows to reduce the lights of the fireworks.

“These techniques can also work well in the home environment to help reduce the stress of fireworks for pet owners dogs and cats.

They added: “A combination of these and the use of chews can keep dogs occupied.

“Aromatherapy sprays can work well for both dogs and cats – just spray a little bit on materials in the home or as a plug-in spray.” 

Dogs prepare for fireworks on New Years Eve Credit: Paul Grover

Dog snack subscription service, Snack at Franks are also trialing an alternative method to keep dogs calm throughout the ongoing bangs. Earlier this year, they launched Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) video series for dogs. 

ASMR is a natural response triggered by placid sights and sounds such as whispers, accents, and crackles, which manifests itself as tingling, sedative sensation within the body. 

The video series amplifies the sounds of dogs large and small munching, scratching, grooming and lapping. 

Known to stimulate and relax people, it grew in popularity after going viral when YouTubers began creating content with soft-spoken voice-over narration and sound effects captured with a high-frequency microphone to catalyse the feelings in people last year. 

Graeme Hall, Dog Behaviour Expert and star of Channel 5’s show the Dogfather said: “ASMR is a fascinating concept and there is much speculation among those who experience it as to whether or not it is a phenomenon also experienced by dogs. 

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“Although some research exists, this interesting new territory might just provide a real antidote to canine anxiety.

“It’s long been my experience that anxious dogs respond well to gentle soothing tones and calming voices. 

“I’ve made these practices a part of my toolkit for years, helping to transform the lives of dogs and their owners as a result.”

It is currently against the law to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am except on special occasions including Bonfire Night and New Year's Eve.

Last year, a petition to ban the sale of fireworks to the public and to only allow licensed venues to put on displays was debated in Parliament in November after it reached 307,897 signatures. 

The Government responded that it “takes the issue of safety of fireworks very seriously” and that “legislation is in place to control their sale, use and misuse” but that they did not plan to change the law further. 

Using or buying fireworks illegally can result in a £5,000 fine or imprisonment for up to six months.

A spokesman for the Dogs Trust previously told the Telegraph that while fireworks “can look beautiful” they can be “distressing” for dogs and left owners on “tenterhooks” as they’re accessible all year-round. 

They added: "A survey found over half of the British public think fireworks should be limited to public displays only.

"To reduce the distress caused to dogs we would like their use restricted to licensed public displays at certain times of the year or organised events, which are well publicised.”