By Matthew Nelson
Bonfire night is not just a stressful time for straw effigies. Highly strung dogs across the country are just as likely to lose sleep over the loud bangs that November the 5th brings. But help is at hand as a new invention allows you to keep your dog within earshot of fireworks- but almost entirely deaf to them. Welcome to the wonderful world of Mutt Muffs, ear muffs for dogs.
The brainchild of pilot Michelle Maguire, the muffs were designed to pacify her pet dog Cooper after she noticed he was distressed by the noise of short-haul flights. However, these handy inventions are not just useful for the rare instances when canines find themselves flying, they are also invaluable on one night of every year. A spokesperson for muttmuffs.com, principal supplier of the ear protectors, said that “they’ve proven quite successful for fireworks night as well as any other environment with extremely loud noises for a fixed duration of time.”
According to muttmuffs.com “some dogs aren’t fearful of fireworks, but for many it’s a phobia.” For border collie Stevie, the sound of fire crackers and Catherine wheels was a traumatic experience, until his owner Angelica Steinker bought him a pair of Mutt Muffs. Steinker found that after fitting Stevie with the earmuffs that: “He did not panic or scratch the doors and scream like he usually does during fireworks.”
But what about cats? Their canine counterparts are catered for in the ear wear department, but they have nothing to protect them from low-grade explosives. Indeed, while a dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s, a cat’s is three times as sensitive, so aren’t their ear drums even more at risk? A spokesperson from Cat Lovers’ Animal Welfare Society said: “I have never heard of ear muffs for cats.” However, it’s not all bad for felines, there are other ways to keep your cat calm. C.L.A.W.S reccomends that concerned owners purchase “anxiety liquid, a stress reliever that can be put in their water or food. There is also Feliway diffuser, which is plugged into an electric socket and emits soothing feromones that help the cat relax.”
The SPCA has a more measured approach when it comes to bonfire night though. Their advice is simple: “make sure animals are kept indoors at these times with sufficient background noise to prevent damage to their ears during the loudest fireworks.”