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Keep pets safe during New Year fireworks, urge vets

British Veterinary Association

3 min read Partner content

As the nation sees in the New Year with celebratory fireworks, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is advising owners on how to keep their pets safe during the celebrations.

Firework noise can reach up to 150 decibels and pets can be particularly sensitive to noise, meaning New Year’s Eve can be traumatic for them. Luckily there are some simple things that can be done around the house to prevent unnecessary stress for dogs, cats and other pets.

Five top tips to help keep your pets calm during New Year’s Eve:

  • Prepare a den for your pet before New Year’s Eve and give them praise when they are relaxed there, so they come to view it as a safe retreat.
  • Use pheromone products next to the den and around the home. These are scents that we can’t smell but can help to reduce a pet’s stress.
  • Provide background noise and close curtains and windows on New Year’s Eve, when fireworks are expected.
  • Remain calm yourself. Never punish your pet – remember, if they toilet in the house it’s not their fault.
  • Move small pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, to a quiet place indoors when fireworks are expected, and provide lots of bedding to help them feel secure and mask the sounds. If you are having a party, remember to move them to a quiet area of the house.

British Veterinary Association President Anna Judson, said:

“New Year celebrations can be a frightening time for pets. Parties and gatherings often mean an increase in visitors and noise and a disruption to their usual routines. When we add in the anxiety caused by New Year’s Eve fireworks, it’s not surprising that many animals become unsettled and even distressed. We recommend that all owners make themselves aware of the specific symptoms of noise phobia in their animal and take steps to minimize the impact of fireworks and other festivities on their pets.”

Signs of distress can vary among different animals and some pets may display quite subtle signs, including restlessness, changes to facial expression, panting, drooling, reluctance to be on their own, toileting in the house or other changes in behaviour. However, in severe cases they may become very agitated or even destructive in their attempts to escape, with the most extreme cases requiring veterinary care.

If your pet is severely distressed by fireworks, a visit to your vet for some short-term treatment as well as to make plans with for a longer-term solution should be considered. A phobia of fireworks can often be effectively treated with behaviour-modification techniques, administered with professional input, and owner commitment and patience. Visit your vet to discuss treatment options and for a potential referral for behaviour therapy.

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