It’s already started: New Year’s celebrations start before fireworks, and lost pet alerts are posted on social media and neighborhood apps.
Fireworks scare some animals. Loud noises, booms and bright flashes of light can cause such anxiety that animals go into flight mode to get away from the disturbance. Even animals that are not normally bothered by loud lights and noises such as lightning and thunder can become anxious during a fire.
Dogs experiencing fire-induced anxiety may show it in a variety of ways. Watch for signs that your pet is feeling stressed.
These may include screaming or coughing, gagging, trembling, shaking, hiding, hiding, trying to escape, loss of appetite, hunger, minor accidents, wide-eyed pupils, and vomiting.
Every year, January 1st and July 5th are the busiest days for people looking for lost pets. Social networks are full of lost and found pet posts these days.
Let’s break the cycle in 2023. Here are some tips to ensure pets are safe and secure as we ring in the New Year:
1. Leave the pets at home. It’s never a good idea to take a dog to a fireworks display or have them outside during fireworks. Some dogs try to chase the firefighters and get seriously injured as a result.
2. Indoors is best. Provide pets with a safe, quiet and secure place in the house. This is especially important if no one is home with a pet. Turning on the television or radio helps to reduce the noise from outside and will also help to reduce stress. A fun chew toy or a bowl full of treats can be a great distraction.
3. Pay attention when they start. We never know when the festivities will begin or end, as they often begin and end a few days before New Year’s Eve. Make adjustments to the regular day and use extra precautions for the days surrounding the fire safety holiday. Walk the dog twice. Use a skin for extra protection. Walk the yard with pets, even if the yard is secure.
4. Take potty breaks on New Year’s Eve. If a dog is nervous, it’s likely to be reluctant to go outside once the party starts, so make sure all potty breaks are taken care of before the action begins. If he needs to go outside during the party, keep the dog outside on a leash to prevent bolting. Even if the yard is fenced, a fearful dog can quickly dig or run into the fence. Also, allow for accidents. If away from home, don’t be surprised if the dog is upset or has a significant accident, as these are ways of coping with stress.
5. Identification is essential. Make sure pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date information at all times. This is a good time to make sure the pet is microchipped and that the chip is registered with your current contact information.
6. Check the yard for trash. After the festivities are over, make sure all the trash from the fire is picked up so the animals don’t eat what they don’t want.
In severe cases of anxiety or fear, seek veterinary advice on how to keep the animal safe. The last thing anyone wants is for an already frightened dog to be in distress and wandering the streets.
Let’s start 2023 happy, healthy and safe at home with our furry friends.
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for New Orleans Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For information about ARNO, visit animalrescueneworleans.org.