Thousands of pets suffer every New Year’s eve due to the loud noise and the smoke or fumes that come from firecrackers.
Some dogs and cats even run away from home out of fear and go missing for days. Worse, some dogs never find their way back home.
“Animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs and whistles may cause them actual pain in their ears. But by following these simple guidelines your pet need not suffer, Blue Cross for pets says.
Tips to help your pet during New Year’s eve:
1.Always keep dogs and cats inside the house or an outhouse familiar to them.
2. Walk your dog earlier in the day before the fireworks start.
3. Close all windows and doors (even the garage door), to keep noise to a minimum and to stop your pet from “escaping.”
4. Draw the curtains. Save Animals of Love and Light (Save ALL), an animal welfare group, wet the curtains with water to absorb the fumes so that the fumes will not get inside the house.
5. If the animals like the sound of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loud) to block out some of the noise from firecrackers. Save ALL uses calming music like baby songs and soft instrumental music to calm the dogs and cats.
6. Put some form of readable identification on your dog or cat , complete with the name of the contact person and the contact number. Put a collar and tag on your pet
7. Put your pet in a place where it can feel safe and comfortable. Some pets hide under a bed with some of your old clothes.
8. Allow your pet to whine, meow, pace around, and hide in a corner if he/she wants to. Do not disturb your pet as he/she is just trying to release the stress and looking for a safe place.
9. Owners, please stay calm. Act normal. Praise your pet for his/her calm behavior. Cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps him or her relax.
10. Avoid leaving your pet alone during this upsetting time. If you have to leave, do not get mad with your pet if he/she was destructive or pooped or urinated in a place that is not allowed during normal days. “Shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed,” Blue Cross says.
11. Never tie a dog outside while fireworks are being let off.
12. Never bring a dog to a fireworks display. He or she may not bark or whimper but this does not mean he/she is happy.
13. Your dog is stressed if you notice him or her panting excessively and yawning,
More tips to keep pets calm
1. PetMD stresses that physical work-up like walking or exercising your dogs will keep them calmer when the fireworks start. Bring them to a park early in the day and let them play with other dogs.
“If you have a cat, plan out your day to spend time with feather wands and laser pointing toys. Keep your cat moving for as long as you can before the evening’s revelry begins,” PetMD says
“Hopefully, when the noise starts, your pet will be too tired to get very stressed out by it, “ add PetMD .
2. Some oils calm dogs, PetMD says.
“For dogs, lavender oil, which has been found to reduce car anxiety in dogs, can be helpful. Make sure the oil has the name Lavendula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis. It can be used either on the skin or by letting your dog smell it. Try spraying the lavender oil on your dog’s favorite blanket, “ PetMD says.
Again, please make sure the oil is prepared in such a way that it is safe to out on your pet’s skin. Please ask your vet. There are synthetic oils which are a no-no to pets.
To be safe, spray the lavender oil on the curtains or areas that can not be reached by your pet.
There are calming sprays for cats too which can be used as a plug-in room diffuser or as a spray. Please ask your vet.
3. Toys and games can distract your pet.
“Give your dog or cat some food puzzles to play with during the time when there will be a lot of noise, or get a few new toys for him to play with, “ PetMD says
“If you have a cat, try spritzing catnip spray on the new toy to keep him interested, “ PetMD adds.
For dogs, give them their favorite food or treat, their “ comfort food.”
Seek advice from your vet
Blue Cross advises that “all pet owners seek veterinary help for their animal six to 12 weeks before the firework season begins. Behavioural advice for your pet needs to be sought three to six months in advance.”
Senior dogs may need more help during this time. Some may have a heart condition and can be more sensitive to the loud noise.
Remember too that the fumes from firecrackers are not good for the lungs of both animals and humans. The effect is worse for pets who have smaller lungs.
Your vet will know how to help dogs with special needs or a certain medical condition during this time.