As we approach the new year, many of us will be gearing up to go out with a bang. But, while fireworks may be a spectacular New Year’s Eve tradition for us, our precious pets may not feel the same way. The bright flashes and loud bangs can be overwhelming for our furry friends, causing distress.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “In 2021, we treated 1,200 animals for firework-related issues, such as phobias and injuries – highlighting the real impact they can have on our beloved pets. This time of year can be particularly frightening for pets, as they don’t understand what is happening or why. Their senses are more sensitive than ours – intensifying the loud and high-pitched sounds, unexpected flashes in the dark and unfamiliar smells of fireworks. Luckily, taking the time to prepare ahead of any celebrations can help ease pets’ anxiety.
Keep them safe
“Make sure dogs have been to the toilet and cats are indoors well before dark – you can offer their dinner a bit earlier to help get them in the house before any fireworks begin.
“Frightened pets may go into fight or flight mode and try to escape when they hear loud bangs, so make sure windows, doors, cat flaps, and doggy doors are secure to keep your pet safely inside. Remember, cats will need a litter tray if they’re spending an extended period of time indoors.
“It’s a good idea to check for and repair any small holes or gaps in fence panels that your pet could squeeze through in a panic, if they did manage to escape from the house. Make sure dogs are wearing a collar and tag and that both dogs and cats have their microchip details up to date.
Use music and pheromones
“Music can be helpful to drown out the sound of bangs and keep your pet calm. Get your pet used to a soothing playlist in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve and then play it on the night itself, you can find some options on the PDSA Spotify page.
“If you’re heading out to any parties, close all curtains or blinds before you leave and you may want to leave the TV on while you’re out, as it can help distract your four-legged friend from the sights and sounds of fireworks and provide some more reassuring and familiar sounds.
“Specialist plug-in diffusers can also help to relax your pet – for the best results, set these up in advance.
Set up a retreat
“Extra guests coming and going over the festive period can be stressful for us, but even more so for our pets. Creating a space where they feel safe and secure will give them somewhere to go if they feel anxious.
“Choose a quiet room where your furry friend feels comfortable and create a ‘den’ using lots of thick blankets, bedding, and pillows which will help to muffle loud noises – cats may prefer their safe space up on high shelves. Placing your pet’s favourite toys in their safe space can also help ease their anxiety.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk