Fireworks can be terrifying for our pets
New Years can be challenging for pet owners. Especially those with dogs afraid of loud and unfamiliar noise such as fireworks. As one of few businesses open through Perth’s New Year’s countdown, one thing we prepare for is helping lost dogs who have run away from home in fear (in the hope they return home) and those who have injured themselves in fright.
This is our advice to help you prepare through the New Years celebrations. It’s not a fast fix-it but hopefully it helps keep pets safe this Perth New Years long-weekend. To help, we’ve developed this article in two parts: Advice for pet owners who will be home, and Advice for pet owners who won’t be home.
Advice for pet owners who will be home
As with thunderstorms, one of the best things you can do with your pet during fireworks is have them by your side. Keep as calm as possible and try not to deviate from your usual routine or behaviour. If your pet senses anxiety, they will become defensive and anxious themselves. A great tip is to exercise your pup before the sky-show commences. Take them for a walk or play in the yard to rid them of any extra energy.
When you’re close to the fireworks commencing, take them inside with you and spend some time together. Turn up the tv, radio or music and play with your pet – as a distraction. Belly rubs and loving pats are also very welcome while the fireworks are on, to give them positive association to the frightening noises outside. If you’re one to be startled by the loud noises as well this distraction will help alleviate your angst which your pup will feed on.
Advice for pet owners who won’t be home
If you’re not going to be home during fireworks, the one message we want to convey is – “DO NOT under any circumstances tie up or tether your pet.” Your pet will be safer in a confined space such as a crate, a laundry or bathroom. We previously wrote an article about Dogs Afraid Of Thunder which offers the same advice.
Dogs don’t understand the loud noises or unique scents in the air that comes from fireworks. They also hear other fearful dogs in the neighbourhood and this is a frightening situation for them. As a result, they will enter flight or fight mode. We often see lost pets after fireworks because they’ve scaled the fence in fear and run as fast as they can. Their owners return to find their pet missing and spend hours of angst trying to find their beloved fur-baby. Some dogs become the victims of being hit-by-car because their need to flight overrides logic. This is a situation we would like to help avoid. Keeping your dogs confined in a safe room helps avoid any dangers associated to their ‘flight mode’.
Dogs who enter fright mode are just as concerning. Some have been known to chew through walls or become aggressive simply because they’re afraid. Dogs who have entered fright mode, which have been tethered, have presented to our team near death because they’ve strangled themselves via the lead or rope. Please DO NOT tie up or tether your pet in the event they enter fright mode. A little destruction within a small space such as the laundry or bathroom is a much better alternative.
While you’re out (with your pet confined indoors) turn the tv, radio or music up as loud as you can without disturbing your neighbours. This will give your dog an audio distraction from the loud explosions. Ensure they have their favourite toys (and treats in objects like Kongs) to keep them distracted. It also helps to leave a t-shirt or other clothing with your scent in the room with them for comfort.
If your pet experiences extreme anxiety or behavioural issues during fireworks or thunderstorms, we recommend a visit to your veterinarian for advice. There are products such as Adaptil (which is a hormone therapy solution), amongst other alternatives, as well as local behavioural trainers who may be able to help.
PVE’s top-3 tips for your pets before the fireworks commence:
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and always keep the details up-to-date. Your veterinarian can provide your pet’s microchip number as well as the contact details for microchip databases in your area.
- Ensure your pet always wears a collar with their council tag attached. We also recommend a secondary tag with your pet’s name and your best contact number. Your veterinarian or local pet shop can help provide a secondary engraved tag.
- Never tether or restrain you pet via a lead or rope during fireworks or a thunderstorm. Your pet will likely choke themselves and if this occurs, the PVE team are available to help. Please call us while you’re enroute so we can ensure we are on stand-by for your arrival. No appointment is necessary to see our Emergency & Critical Care Veterinary team otherwise.