New Year’s Eve Fireworks
It’s almost the end of 2021, and with the New Year approaching I’m sure that we are all looking forward to the end of another challenging year. However, our pets might not be so excited about the upcoming celebrations, as it is likely that many commercial as well as private firework displays will be going ahead on New Year’s Eve.
This is potentially very stressful for pets and wildlife, and we would advise all our clients to be mindful of the impact that these loud bangs and flashing lights have on other animals, even if your own pets are relaxed around fireworks. Wildlife can be disorientated and terrified by fireworks and this can cause them to abandon their nests and potentially put themselves in harm’s way.
Below I’ve highlighted behaviours that we commonly see during fireworks and what we can do to reduce stress for your pets.
- Excessive panting- many owners are very concerned that their dog is going to have a heart attack because this can appear so extreme. This would be very unlikely to occur, but this episode is similar to a panic attack in humans and can feel incredibly stressful.
- Hiding or trying to run away
- Excessive vocalisation
- Over grooming/licking
- Digging at the carpet
- Soiling in the house
What can we do to help them?
- Try and prevent walking dogs when it becomes dark in case fireworks are set off and they ‘bolt’.
- Keep pets inside- it is better to keep cats in at night when it is dark even if there aren’t any fireworks.
- Put music on (music is more of a constant noise than the TV)
- Keep the curtains drawn so that they can’t see any flashing lights.
- Make a den/nest for them to hide in – don’t close the door to this den as this can cause more distress if they feel trapped in one area.
- Allow your pet to hide where they want- you can always create a den where they decide that they feel safe- sometimes this is a strange place like the bath but try and let them stay where they choose as long as it’s safe.
- Try not to comfort them as this can sometimes reinforce behaviours by making them think they are right to be scared
- NEVER tell them off- this only makes them more scared. Try and ignore the behaviour, once you have set up their den & put some nice calm music on.
We can use supplements and behaviour modifiers to support and reduce your pet’s response to fireworks. These medications include Nutacalm, Zylkene, Adaptil and Sileo, please talk to one of our vets if you would like to find the medication that will work for your pet. Sometimes we do need to resort to using medication to help calm them, but we don’t recommend using a sedative as this can reduce the behaviours that your pet shows, but it doesn’t mean that the stress has gone- they can feel almost trapped and unable to exhibit their distress.
If you are worried that your pet may react, or you know that they are already fearful of fireworks (or other loud noises) then do not hesitate to phone us at the Cape Veterinary Clinic for advice on 01483 538990.
Catherine Hannah BVSc MRCVS.
References: RSPCA, Zylkene.