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Vets' top tips to keep pets calm on New Year’s Eve

27 Dec 2019

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Out with the old and in with the new! New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time to wrap up the year by celebrating with friends and family. Although it is often an evening of fun, frolics and fireworks for us, it can be a time of anxiety and distress for our pets.

Dogs, cats and rabbits are particularly sensitive to noise. At 150 decibels, fireworks can be as loud as a jet engine and can be very frightening and upsetting for them. Around 1 in 14 vets across the country reported seeing animals with firework-related injuries during 2018, in our Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey last December. The most commonly reported cases were self-injuries caused by fireworks-related anxiety: for example, a dog who tried to escape from its kennel and in the process, pulled out all of its front teeth and another escaping from the home and being run over by a passing car.

Pets kept in cages and tanks such as hamsters, ferrets, fish, and birds are also vulnerable to distress when there are large gatherings of people, smoke, or loud music in the home. Signs of distress can differ from animal to animal with some pets showing obvious signs such as panting, drooling, and attempts to escape, and others showing more subtle signs including restlessness and toileting in the house. Cats often hide while rabbits may keep very still and thump the ground with their back feet.

BVA President and small animal vet, Daniella Dos Santos, said:

“Fireworks phobia and distress in pets is an issue that vets often see around New Year’s Eve. Even if you don’t expect your pet to be anxious, consider making things as comfortable as possible for them to help them through the evening.

“There are various things that owners can do to help their pets including providing your pet with a cosy, dark den to help them feel safe, closing curtains, and turning the lights off. Having the radio or television on low in the background can also help. If you are having a party, remember to move any small pets in cages or tanks to a quiet area of the house.

“If your pet is significantly distressed by fireworks, we’d encourage you to speak to your local vet as early as possible to discuss possible treatment options that may help in the long term. Remember to check the out of hours, emergency opening times for the Christmas period.”

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