I hear this from many of my customers that although they love crackers their pets are not big fans. Although some of us don’t like the bangs either, the effect can be extreme with animals. So what is it they hear that we don’t?
A dog’s hearing is far more sensitive than the average human as they can pick up sounds from much further away, about four times the distance. Astonishingly this can be about a mile away. Whereas cats have an even wider range of hearing, compared to most mammals. Not only can they hear the squeaks of mice and small rodents, they can even pick up the sound of their movements. So what we perceive to be loud noises are hugely amplified for them.
The frequency of the sound is also a factor. Although humans and dogs hear roughly the same low frequency and cats hear even lower, it’s the higher frequency, or high pitched tone, where we see the biggest difference. For example the average human can hear up to 23,000 Hz while a dog can hear as high as 45,000 Hz, cats even higher up to 64,000 Hz. This is because an animal’s hearing has evolved to detect danger, while ours has for speech which is in the lower frequency range.
Loud sounds from fireworks or thunderstorms are often a terrifying experience for cats and dogs because they don’t understand where the noise is coming from. And you can’t explain it to them either. The unpredictability also adds to the fear. They perceive these noises as a threat, which in turn naturally triggers a fight or flight response.
So no wonder, along with all the bustle and excitement at Christmas time, that your pet will pick up on this and react when we start pulling crackers excitedly. After all, for them it’s just another day. Added to this, when crackers are pulled they emit a tiny puff of smoke that has a distinct odour. As animals have a keener sense of smell too, your pet may associate this odour with something to fear.
So what is it about Christmas crackers?
A standard disposable cracker has a cracker snap inside which breaks when the cracker is pulled. The snap is made up of two strips of card. On the end of one strip there is a tiny amount of a compound called silver fulminate. The other strip has two small sections of sandpaper.
The ends of the two strips of card are then joined with a thin piece of tissue paper wrapped round the centre and fixed to hold the strips together. When the cracker is pulled apart, the sandpaper creates friction with the compound and this is what causes the loud bang.
But a solution is at hand…
‘Keep This Cracker’ is a pet-friendly option, as these crackers come with ecosnaps. These new snaps, made from compostable card, do not include any added compounds, so when the cracker is pulled it still breaks like a standard cracker just with less of a bang. Rocco, our canine volunteer, loved them. Specially as we sneaked a treat inside! Whilst Simona the cat was happy to play with them too even had a go at pulling one.
There are some added benefits too;
- The ecosnaps are fully recyclable and made in the UK.
- Being low-noise they are perfectly suited to those who find loud bangs problematic. To find out more, read my blog on ‘Why some people avoid Christmas crackers’.
- Also, if you are planning to travel and want to take your crackers on a plane, there are restrictions with airlines and airports with some prohibiting them altogether. You don’t need to worry with the ecosnaps, as these don’t have any explosive compound. For more information read my blog ‘Can you take Christmas crackers on a plane?’