Keeping your Pet safe on New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve celebrations are a time of fun and frivolity. For our pets, however, it can be a very fearful time that may cause stress and anxiety. Here are some simple ways to help reduce this stress and keep our furry friends safe.

When pets get scared, they’ll often try to escape the situation. Many dogs manage to get out of their normally secure yard on New Year’s Eve.

If possible, try to keep your pet indoors during the night, and provide them with a safe room or place to go to during the fireworks. A box or crate can work if a separate room is not suitable.You may need to get them used to the crate or room in the weeks leading up to NYE by putting treats and toys in there for them.

On the night of the fireworks ensure there are lots of things to keep them occupied. If you are not going to be home during the fireworks make sure there is nothing in the room that can cause them harm should they become stressed. 

Ensure all windows are blocked so they can’t see any flashes of light. A loud radio or TV can also distract from the noise of the fireworks.

If you are unable to keep your pet indoors, try to find a ‘safe’ place outside for them, such as a garage, laundry or kennel. Sleepy Pod pet carriers are an ideal sanctuary for cats or small dogs.

Ensure your pet is microchipped and that their details are up to date. Also have a collar on them with their name and your phone number. If they do happen to escape, you want to make sure they can find their way home to you easily.

Many pets get lots every year during New Year’s Eve. If you find a pet wandering the streets without an owner, without a collar or ID tag, take it to your nearest vet so it can be scanned for a microchip and reunited with its owner.

In the weeks leading up to fireworks you can try desensitising your pet to loud sounds. There are lots of fireworks sounds that can be found on the internet. Start by playing them softly while giving your pet lots of treats and fun games. Slowly, over days, increase the volume.

If they appear stressed, take a step back by lowering the volume to a level they are comfortable with and then increase the volume more slowly, again with lots of treats for non-anxious behaviour.

Over several weeks they may become more accustomed to the loud sounds and hopefully on New Year’s Eve it won’t be so stressful for them.

Your behaviour
Your behaviour can have a big influence on your pet! Try not to treat them any different than usual on New Year’s Eve. If you fuss and coddle them they will know something is different and this in itself could increase their awareness that something is not quite right. Talk to them in a calm, normal manner.

If your pet does cause a mess or disturbance during fireworks don’t yell at them or punish them, they are only doing it out of fear.

If you are with your pet during the fireworks try distracting them with toys, games or treats but don’t force them if they are particularly distressed.

To medicate or not?
This is really a question for your vet. If your pet has a history of anxiety it can be great idea to have a chat with your vet to see if medication is suitable or required during fireworks.

There are however products other than prescription medication that may be useful during this time. If your have put your pet in a room you could try an Adaptil (for dogs), or Feliway (for cats) diffuser. These release natural pheromones that help keep our pets calm during stressful times. Alternatively Thundershirts are a great way to reduce anxiety. My own little girl Molly wears one during storms and the difference it makes to her is amazing!

Remember and Enjoy!
For us fireworks can be exciting and fun but for our pets they can cause anxiety and stress. With a little bit of preparation we can help reduce their anxiety so it is not a night for them to fear. And this means we can enjoy the night without worrying about our beloved friends.

This blog was written by Michele Duffield, one of the lovely Clinical Crew Members at our North Ryde Vet Clinic. Michelle has a gorgeous 9 yo female Maltese x ShihTzu called Molly.