How to keep dogs and cats safe on New Year’s Eve

As New Year’s Eve Approach, many locations around the world will do Celebrate with fireworksincluding the United Arab Emirates. While animated displays often symbolize new beginnings, not everyone enjoys them.

This is especially true. Animals Those who are hypersensitive to sound and may be adversely affected by exposure to sudden, loud sounds that seem to come out of nowhere.

The RSPCA’s 2022 Impact Survey found that 76 percent of respondents reported that their dogs were hurt by fireworks, while the ASPCA reported that One in five pets go missing after being frightened by loud noises.

When Fireworks Go Wrong

She was raised by Dubai resident Kira Doherty. Rescue dog Pepsi since he was five months old. He was never considered a “panic” dog until a recent incident near his home where children were playing with balloons and firecrackers. Doherty believes the exposure traumatized Pepsi.

“He’s a very confident dog,” she says. “When he was young I used to tune him to the fireworks by putting him on YouTube videos of big firework displays in the background and I usually put them on before New Year’s Eve every year.

“But now he won’t eat his favorite snack. His tail goes between his legs. He runs to the front door to get away from windows or hiding. He skips dinner for a few days. He cries and cries and just keeps looking at me for help.

Becca Jessup, who lives in Dubai, had a similar problem a few years ago while walking her two dogs, Lexi and Bruno, during Ramadan. She recalls that it was near Iftar, when, unexpectedly, a firework burst from a garden and exploded above them.

While Bruno is well, a terrified Lexie starts running towards her house. When Jessup finally caught him, he realized the damage he had done, and said the dog was “never the same again”.

She explains: “Every time we left the house, she would stand up and tremble with fear. After all, I could walk him in different areas, areas he had no recollection of. But if she heard the children playing, she would be a frozen, shaking, crying dog.

“This is all because of a single firework, let alone in broad daylight.”

Initial preparation

Dr Martin Vines of the British Veterinary Center in Abu Dhabi says it’s important to be prepared to avoid this type of incident and know which clinics are open in case of an emergency, such as if a pet is injured. Be it because it drew.

“Be aware of when fireworks are likely to occur and prepare accordingly,” advises Wyness, who also recommends creating a pet-safe area that they can easily access. If they are feeling fear.

“This can be a quiet room, crate, or any area where your pet feels safe. Use blankets to block out sound and close curtains to block out bright lights. Stressful events “Encourage the pet to retreat to this safe place during the,” he says.

Dr Katrin John, owner and head vet of German Vet in Abu Dhabi, agrees that adjusting to a pet’s environment can be helpful.

“This can be achieved by keeping the curtains or blinds closed, playing soothing music, giving the pet a palatable and long-lasting treat such as a stuffed Kong or chew toy, and providing physical comfort, such as petting. Or hugging them, but only if they like it, of course,” she says.

Pets should also be properly identified, whether that means wearing an ID tag or collar or microchipping them in case they run away.

Physical and mental symptoms of distress

Dr. Vines says that when an animal is frightened, there are obvious physical signs. If the dog is mildly frightened, it may shake, tuck its tail between its legs, hide or become less active.

If the dog is in a panic attack, however, it will also show physical signs such as heavy breathing or pacing back and forth in an attempt to escape. They may be shivering or panting.

Pets can also show more subtle signs of anxiety and stress, such as lip licking or yawning, says Dr. John. “Some may lick or chew their paws and some may have the classic posture of body reflexes such as ears pointing back.”

Signs can be difficult to recognize in cats. If a feline is scared or anxious, they will cower or crouch to the ground to appear smaller. They will also look for places to hide, go out of their litter box, or become more aggressive by spitting and hissing. They may also start eating more or sleeping more.

Physically, their eyes will widen and the pupils will dilate. They will arch their back and their fur may stand up. Just like dogs, cats tuck their tails down when they are in pain.

What to do next?

Calming a pet after a shock can be a difficult task. Although most fireworks displays only last between five and 10 minutes, animal panic and anxiety can last much longer.

If you have a fearful pet, Dr. Vines advises maintaining routine as much as possible, meaning sticking to regular feeding, walking and playtime schedules. “Consistency and predictability help reduce anxiety,” he says.

In extreme cases, behavioral therapy and medication may be used for a limited time. It is also advisable to consult a doctor for help.

“Pets can have real panic attacks during these events and it affects mental health,” says Dr. John. “If we don’t help them in these instances, it’s likely that the next time they encounter fireworks, their experience and behavior will be worse. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help and advice.

Both vets say owners should never discipline pets when they are fearful.

“If they bark, scream or destroy things, they’re doing it out of fear, not because they’re being naughty or destructive,” says Dr. John. Help, compassion and support are needed, and owners need to have strategies and tools they can use to help their pets through these events.”

Jessup says it took eight months and two force-free trainers (dog trainers who don’t use force or intimidation) to get Lexie back on track. However, even now, years later, some signs of post-traumatic stress remain.

“If we’re out for a walk and she hears something that even sounds like fireworks, like a car backfiring or a door slamming, she straps and bolts for home,” she says. Will pull through,” she says.

Doherty, who is still trying to help Pepsi ease its fears, urges those who want to celebrate during the holidays to do so safely.

“Go to organized events and be mindful of nature, pets and people around you who may be disturbed by loud noises, flashing and startling noises.”

Updated: December 29, 2023, 3:58 AM


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