New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrating, and for many people, this includes setting off fireworks. While most people enjoy the colorful explosions, many pets are frightened, and many will try to escape, largely due to anxiety over the booming, flickering firework shows. With a little planning and preparation, New Year’s Eve can be a safe and enjoyable time for you and your pets. Happy New Year!
Leave your Pets at Home. There are a number of elements that can compromise your pet’s health and safety, from large crowds and discarded trash, bones, and food to loud noises, alcohol, and fireworks. Home is the safest place for your pet.
Create a Safe Haven. Your crate-trained pet will feel much more secure within the confines of their kennel. If that’s not an option, secure your pet into an area where they will be most comfortable, away from the bright flashing lights and noises or any nearby fireworks displays. Many pets will panic at the continuous sound of fireworks and may go to extreme lengths to escape the noise. Some have gone so far as to jump through glass windows, chew through screens, dig under fences, or leap over constructs, following their instincts to flee from the threatening situation.
Get Some Exercise. Spend a portion of the day walking, hiking, and playing so that your pet is tired out by the time all the evening revelries begin.
Lock Up Explosives. If you have personal fireworks, make sure to keep them in a safe location that your pet cannot access. Curious cats and dogs may be tempted by the fancy streamers, decorations, and scents of fireworks. Most fireworks are toxic to pets, containing harmful substances like potassium nitrate, charcoal, sulfur, and coloring agents. If your pet has ingested a firework, contact your vet or emergency animal hotline to get help immediately.
Check ID. Make sure that your pet is wearing their identification tag and that all your contact information is up-to-date. Even inside pets should wear a collar and ID—the loud noises can trigger a flight response that prompts them to escape however they can.
Try the Mozart Effect. Play some soothing classical music to create some comforting background noises for your pet. The music doesn’t need to drown out the fireworks; aim for a distracting and continuous melody at a regular listening volume. If classical music isn’t your forte, try a white noise machine, fan, or television program, all of which can provide a welcome diversion.
Under Pressure. A Thundershirt for your dog or cat may provide some additional relief. A Thundershirt exerts constant pressure on your pet’s torso to help relieve anxiety, much in the same way that swaddling a newborn baby creates a sense of security and comfort.
Enlist Help. If your pet shows extreme anxiety, talk to your vet to find out whether anti-anxiety medications may help them get through the noisy holiday season with minimal stress.