Tips to help keep pets safe during firework displays

Video and audio grabs from RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Dr Liz Arnott are available

While fireworks are a spectacular way to bring in the new year for us humans, the same isn’t true for our furry and feathered friends. Just like thunderstorms, the loud, unexpected noise of fireworks can cause extreme distress for our pets. This is why it is crucial to create a safe, calm environment, to prevent our loyal companions from hurting themselves or becoming lost in panic.

“Dogs, like several other animal species, have sensitive hearing. Fireworks can be terrifyingly loud and relatively prolonged which can cause some individuals overwhelming fear,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Liz Arnott.

“Noise phobias are not uncommon in dogs, but there are things we can do in the lead-up, and during, fireworks displays to help them feel safe and secure.

Here are some tips to keep your pets comfortable this New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight:

·       If you can, stay home to be with your pet and try to keep them secured indoors. Alternatively, you could consider asking a friend, family member or pet sitter to be around if your animal has a particularly difficult time with fireworks. Dogs have been known to damage property or themselves in frantic attempts to escape the noise. They may jump or dig under fences, and cats, birds, and pocket pets should be safely housed with somewhere safe to hide until the noise stops.

·       Ensure you have provided your dogs and cats with everything they need during the day in the lead-up to any fireworks. They should have their regular routine of play, exercise, and enrichment as well as rest and sleep.

·       Provide access to any areas your dog or cat will want to hide. This might include a bathroom, bedroom or even leaving the doors to a cupboard open if that is where they feel most secure. You can set up hiding areas that might provide them comfort such as crates covered with blankets.

·       Take measures to reduce the impact of flashing lights and noise such as closing curtains and blinds and providing some background noise.

·       Play canine or feline-specific calming soundtracks that can be found on music streaming platforms or leave the television or radio on to distract from the sound of the fireworks.

·       Use canine or feline synthetic pheromone products in their resting area to provide reassurance and encourage a sense of calm.

·       Ensure your pet has a microchip with up-to-date details and an ID tag, as pets could potentially flee and escape your property in an attempt to avoid the noise of the fireworks.

“If you are at home and your pet is frightened, it’s important to let them seek comfort as they choose. If they want to be with you it is appropriate to provide them calm reassurance rather than ignoring their stress, ” adds Dr Arnott.

“If your pet is not overwhelmed by the fireworks, you could try engaging them in normal activities, such as play and reinforce any calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy. If you notice that your pet is showing extreme signs of stress during fireworks, or their behaviour is getting more intense over time, you should speak to your veterinarian to get assistance.”

Please contact your local council if you come across a wandering pet. If your pet goes missing over the festive period, it may be at your local animal care facility.

For emergency and animal cruelty reports contact RSPCA NSW on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589).

A media kit featuring audio and video of RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Dr Liz Arnott on this topic is available via Dropbox.