New Years Eve is a grand time to get together and celebrate with friends and family, but it might not be so grand for your pet(s). Unfortunately, because dogs and cats have an acute sense of hearing (four times greater than a human’s)-the traditional sights and sounds of fireworks, even noisemakers and loud shouting can cause your pet extreme distress and anxiety. These overwhelming loud flashes of light and thunderous noises can often evoke an uncharacteristic panicked behaviour from your pet- which may result in them harming themself or cause them to seek shelter elsewhere by running away. Every year, thousands of traumatised dogs escape from their owners, homes, and yards- and for this reason alone, you should always consider your pet first before you head out to celebrate.
Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure your pet has a safe, secure, and stress-free night as you bring in the New Year.
- First and foremost, make certain your pets are either micro-chipped or have a collar with a tag identifying them, along with your current contact information. If your pet happens to escape and run away during the night- you can be reunited more easily when they are found.
- Your pet should never accompany you to any type of public fireworks display, be tied up, or left alone in a car while a fireworks celebration is occurring.
- Keep all pets indoors in a safe and secure environment (room, crate or cage) with their favourite playthings, snacks, and a fresh bowl of water. Cover cages and crates when possible, and close drapes, curtains, and blinds. Make certain cat and doggy doors/flaps are securely closed and keep all windows shut. This not only ensures they won’t be injured by stray fireworks; it also keeps them from harming themselves if they become panicked and try to escape by any means possible.
- If you need to leave your dog alone during the celebration, give him or her ample amount of exercise during the day and a filling meal- both of which will encourage sleep in your absence. You may also want to leave on the radio or television which will distract them from the noise of the fireworks outside- and…remember to leave the light on so flashes of light won’t startle them.
- If you are home with your pet, distract them with their favourite toy or food. Give them a lot of attention and praise. Your presence and a ‘business as usual’ attitude will make your pet feel more secure. You can also try playing music loudly or using an alternate familiar sound such as the vacuum or television to drown out the noise.
- If you own a pet that is prone to nervousness or becomes easily upset, contact your vet and ask what they suggest. You might even want to consider an anti-anxiety medication to help them through the night.