Happy new year *bang bang bang!*

New Year’s Eve and the festive season celebrations usually always involve fireworks. While most of us enjoy such a spectacle, these firework displays scare many of our pets. These pets suffer from a condition called noise phobia, and become scared and anxious with other loud noises, such as during thunderstorms. Signs of noise phobia include hiding, urinating, drooling, chewing, panting, attention seeking, pacing, trying to escape, trembling or shaking and excessive barking in dogs.

Each year at the Animal Emergency Centre we see dogs and cats that have injured themselves trying to escape the noise of firework displays. The most common types of injuries we see in such cases are lacerations caused by jumping through glass windows or doors, impalement on fences after attempting to scramble over, or multiple trauma after being hit by motor vehicle in those animals that succeed in escaping their homes. Of course, many animals are not injured but do become lost, often being found many kilometres from home. These pets may be taken to shelters, where they may not be successfully reunited with their owners unless they have a name tag or microchip.

The following precautions may help protect your pets from escaping or injuring themselves:
Move and secure your pets indoors. Keep them in a place where it feels safe and comfortable such as in a room, under the bed, or in their crate.
Close all windows and doors to prevent them from escaping and to try to keep the noise level to a minimum.
For rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets or birds that are normally housed outside, consider bringing them indoors or into a garage or shed. Give them extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe or cover cages with thick blankets, ensuring there is adequate ventilation.
If you are home, try to make it a fun time by playing games, giving treats or making your animal perform some tricks for their treats.
Consider playing music in the background to reduce the sound of the fireworks, or leaving the TV on (provided it is not on a channel that will be covering the firework displays).

We need to give our pets strategies to cope with the fearful situation, and remember not to punish them as this may increase fearful behaviour. If you think your pet has noise phobia, please speak to your local veterinarian as they may be able to provide you with sedatives or calming hormones and a long term plan to desensitise your pet to noise.

If you find a wandering stray pet, please contact your local council once the animal has been secured safely. The Animal Emergency Centre is happy to assess and provide first aid to any stray pets that are injured.

The Animal Emergency Centre wishes you and your pet a happy and safe New Year!

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