While loud parties and fireworks are loads of fun for us pet parents, they can be quite frightening for our four-legged family members.
Did you know that, on average, approximately 23 per cent of pets are fearful of noises, particularly those that are loud, sudden and high pitched?
Affected pets can react very differently, with responses ranging from excessive panting, hiding, attempting to escape, to destructiveness and even self injury. It goes without saying that we want to avoid this kind of distress at all costs.
So, we chatted to PETstock vet Dr Sasha Nefedova for her tips to keep your pet safe and calm this New Year’s Eve.
A calming accessory
A Thundershirt is an anti-anxiety weighted coat for dogs, that can help to calm their nerves if they are feeling anxious, overexcited or fearful, in response to the loud noises and bright lights of New Year’s Eve. The gentle, constant pressure of a Thundershirt has a calming effect on a dog’s nervous system and is a safe and drug free solution to help combat your dog’s anxiety.
Not only can music reduce the anxiety levels of pets, but it can also help them to better cope with other psychological triggers such as loud noises or fireworks. Much like humans, music sends soundwaves that are processed by your pet’s brain which can cause them to react in a variety of different ways. For instance, loud and sudden noises can incite an increase in adrenaline, while repetitive and gentler sounds will often relax their nervous system. To soothe your dog’s nerves, try leaving on a calming playlist or DOGTV’s relaxation program which features music that is scientifically designed to support the anxiety that our pets can experience. Monthly and annual subscriptions to DOGTV are available exclusively at PETstock stores or online.
Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise, whether it be a long walk, run or trip to the dog park, before the New Year’s Eve celebrations begin. Just like humans, dogs receive endorphins after exercise, allowing them to feel a natural high and be happy. Even better, allowing your dog to run freely, socialise and interact with other dogs at the park can further decrease feelings of anxiety. On New Year’s Eve, a well exercised, calm dog is less likely to engage in anxious behaviours such as barking or chewing at the furniture.
If you’re heading out on New Year’s Eve, consider leaving your pet with a new enrichment toy such as a Kong or food puzzles. Giving your dog, cat or rabbit a ‘job’ to do will keep them mentally stimulated, offer a sense of comfort and help manage their anxiety or boredom. However, it’s important that you identify the cause of their anxiety so you’re not at risk of reinforcing the issue.
Dogs are more likely to escape on nights like New Year’s Eve in response to loud noises, large crowds of people, unfamiliar surroundings and a change to their normal routine. Under these unusual circumstances, your pet may get frightened and attempt to run away or hide as a result. In the case that your furry friend does make a break for it, make sure they are microchipped or update any new details on the microchip registry, and ensure they’re wearing an ID tag so that they can be easily returned.
Before the New Year’s festivities begin, there’s a number of precautions we can take to protect pets within the home. It’s a great idea to keep all windows and curtains closed, to minimise the impact that fireworks can have on pets. Animals, such as rabbits, who are usually kept outdoors should be brought into the home or some other quiet, enclosed space such as the garden shed on New Year’s Eve. When it becomes dark, ensure cats are kept indoors and have access to as many hiding places as possible. This means you should open doors to rooms that your cat wouldn’t normally have access to.