This New Year’s Eve, do yourself and your pets a favor. Make sure that every pet is indoors and safe. Most pets hate fireworks, and if your neighborhood is like mine, it will sound like Beirut in the 80’s for several hours on New Year’s Eve.
Something most pet people don’t seem to know is that January 1st and July 5th are the two biggest days of the year for the reporting of lost pets. Think a minute – what do those two days have in common? You guessed it. Both follow a night of crazy people lighting things on fire to watch them go boom.
Pets don’t like it when things go boom. Calm, normally well-behaved pets can go completely berzerk. They may dig out of the yard or climb over the fence. They may hurt themselves trying to get out of a crate. They may become sick from stress, with results that are bad for both your pet and your carpet. I’ve even heard of panicked pets tearing up furniture or other household items.
With some forethought and planning, these disasters can be avoided.
A few years ago, I was on my way to town one rainy morning in early January when I was forced to stop traffic to get to a terrified poodle shivering in the middle of the road. I ended up boarding the poor little guy at my vet’s office for a week while we searched for his owners. I had just about given up the search and resigned myself to bringing home another senior dog when one of my students happened to mention that a family in her neighborhood was missing a poodle.
Thank God. It was the right family. This little old guy has been in the yard, with their other dog, when the fireworks started. The dogs were often left overnight in the yard when their people travelled, with access to shelter, beds, and food in the garage. It had always been fine before. But they had never been gone on a fireworks night. Apparently he freaked and clawed his way through the fence. When I found him, he had been out for two days, was 8 to 10 miles from home, and would have had to come through some very dangerous territory to get there.
He was lucky. He got to go home.
So how do you protect your pet?
- Don’t leave your pet alone if you don’t have to, especially if it’s his first exposure to fireworks.
- Don’t leave your pet outside.
- Don’t crate your pet unless you know how he will react or can be there to supervise – some dogs will try to claw or chew out of the crate and can do themselves serious damage in the process.
- Do put your pet in the quietest part of the house – even if it’s a walk-in closet. Use the walls and doors to muffle the sounds of explosions.
- Do talk to your vet about sedation, if you know your pet panics when the noise starts. Benadryl (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) is a common option. Check with your vet before you use it to confirm a dose, but the standard dose is 1 mg per pound of bodyweight.
- Do use the television or the radio to provide cover noise for the fireworks.
- Do offer treats to help keep your pet calm and focused on food instead of sound.
The bottom line is that your pet depends on you to keep him safe. Please, don’t let him down. Especially not on New Year’s Eve, when it’s cold outside and there are fireworks all around.