Even if your New Year's Eve doesn’t involve loud celebrations and late night parties, it’s good to keep in mind that other people’s often do. As such, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how your cats and dogs might handle any New Year's Eve fireworks!
When you think about it, is it any wonder why many pets are afraid of and anxious about fireworks?
To help keep your pets safe while ringing in the New Year, consider some of the following tips. And please note that different pets may respond differently to each of the suggestions, and many pets will likely do best with a combination of several of these tips. With most, it’s best to get your pets used to them prior to New Year's Eve and with any medications, you’ll need to give your vet plenty of lead time to authorize and fill any prescriptions.
- Keep them inside, especially after dark
- Use a body wrap, such as the Thundershirt (yes, there’s one for cats)
- Plug in a Feliway (cat calming pheromone) difuser
- Play calming or classical music, such as the Through A Cat’s Ear CD
- Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that might help
- Make sure your cats are wearing their ID collar, and talk to your veterinarian about having your cats microchipped, if they aren’t already
- Set up a “safe room” where you provide your cats with a clean litter box (or two), some fun toys, fresh water, their favorite bed, and anything else you can think of that will help your cats feel comfortable
- Bring outdoor dogs inside, or ensure that they have comforting shelter and that your yard fence is intact and your gates closed
- Make sure your dogs are wearing their ID tags, and talk to your veterinarian about having your dogs microchipped, if they aren’t already
- Use a body wrap, such as the Thundershirt
- Play calming or classical music, such as the Noise Phobia Series from Through A Dog’s Ear
- Use an Adaptil (dog ppeasing Pheromone) collar
- Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety* medications that may help your dog
- Consider trying one of the calming homeopathic products, such as Rescue Remedy
- Take your dog for a long hike or run, or otherwise give them plenty of exhausting exercise earlier in the day to tire them out
- Set up a “safe room” where you provide your dogs with their crate (or another confined and comforting place for them to rest), some fun toys (consider a stuffed Kong or another fun, interactive, treat-dispensing toy), fresh water, and anything else you can think of that will help your dog feel comfortable
*Please note that while Acepromazine (“Ace”) is still a commonly prescribed medication for dogs suffering from noise phobias, it really isn’t the best option. This is because Ace is a tranquilizer, which has a sedative effect (makes your dog sleepy), but not an anxiolytic one (reduces his anxiety and fear). So while the Ace may knock your dog out, all it’s doing is preventing him from moving or otherwise expressing his concerns and anxiety, he is still experiencing them though! As such, the use of Acepromazine for noise phobias can actually make the problem worse in the long run, and could even lead to injuries if someone were to startle your scared yet sedated dog. There are plenty of safe, more effective, and better medication options available, so please speak with your veterinarian about “Ace alternatives” for firework and other noise phobias.
Happy New Year from all of us at Preventive Vet. Have fun and stay safe!