New Year’s Eve through to New Year’s Day is The Lost Dogs’ Home busiest 24-hours of the year, as we are inundated with lost and anxious pets that have escaped their homes in fear of booming fireworks. Pyrotechnics as well as thunderstorms – which are not uncommon this time of year, mean pet owners need to take extra care to keep their dog or cat safe.
Dogs’ hearing is four times better than human hearing and it’s a natural reaction for some dogs to flee and seek refuge when they hear such loud and unfamiliar sounds. In a bid to keep your pet out of harm’s way this New Year’s Eve, The Lost Dogs’ Home has set out some tips for pet owners to consider before going out to celebrate.
Ensure your pet is completely identifiable with a microchip, collar ID tag and most importantly, ensure your contact details are up-to-date. If you have any questions around your pet’s identification the National Pet Register can be contacted 24/7 on 1300 734 738. This gives you and your pet the best chance of being reunited in the event they become lost.
Keep your pet securely contained for the entire night – a fence may not be enough to keep a determined, panicking pet from escaping during fireworks. Scaling fences can also lead to serious injury for dogs. Ideally you should keep your pet inside, in a secure room where they can neither escape nor hurt themselves. It is important that you don’t tie up your dog at the collar, as in a moment of panic he or she could try to get away causing serious injury.
Stay home with your pet, or if this is not possible, organise a pet-sitter for the night, or have someone close at hand who can check on them if need be. That person should be reliable and familiar to your pet.
Backyard fireworks are perhaps most dangerous for pets as they are unpredictable and can be set off close to home. It means that owners with anxious pets need to be more vigilant in making sure their pets are safe both leading up to and after New Year’s Eve. You can also alert authorities of any illegal fireworks in your neighbourhood.
When fireworks are being let off, make sure they are inside and distract your pet with toys and food and keep a radio or television switched on.
If you know your pet is especially anxious, it is advisable to speak to your vet regarding any medication you could give to help them stay calm. However, this should be a last resort and must only be undertaken after a professional consultation.
Always stay calm during a storm and go about your activities as normal. Your pet will take its cues from you.
If your dog is fearful during the storms don’t pat or cuddle them – this can be seen as reinforcing the behaviour that teaches your pet that storms are something to be feared.
If a storm is predicted, take your dog for a longer walk before it hits to help tire out and relax them.
Provide your cat or dog with a safe space to retreat to, for example, a crate or their bed.
There are also a number of ways to desensitise pets to storms, such as playing a CD with the storm sounds.
Finally, if you know your dog or cat is fearful during thunderstorms and fireworks and is at real risk of fleeing, the very best thing you can do for them is to stay home.