As we prepare to ring in the New Year, this is my yearly public service announcement that fireworks — the loud bangs and booms, screeching sounds and bright flashes of lights — can be terrifying for pets. Even those that are normally not bothered by loud sounds or lightning and thunder can become stressed by fireworks.
Dogs that are experiencing fireworks-induced anxiety may show it in a number of ways. Learn to recognize the signs, including: whining or barking, panting, trembling, shaking, pacing, hiding, trying to escape, decreased appetite, drooling, potty accidents, dilated pupils or wide eyes and even vomiting.
Jan. 1 and July 5 are guaranteed days of lost pets. Social networks will be filled with posts of lost and found animals. This is because some pets go into flight mode to escape the stress and panic of fireworks, and they try to get as far away from the noise as possible.
Here are five tips to keep pets safe and secure this New Year’s Eve:
1. Secure the home and yard ahead of time. Fireworks celebrations often start a few days before and last several days after New Year’s Eve. It is best to make adjusts to the regular routine and use extra precautions for the days surrounding a fireworks holiday.
2. Take potty breaks early. If a dog is nervous, he will likely avoid going outside once the festivities have started, so make sure all potty breaks are taken care of before the action begins. If a dog needs to go out during the celebration, bring him outside on a leash to prevent the urge to bolt. Even if the yard is fenced in, a terrified dog can quickly dig out or jump the fence. Also, allow for accidents. If away from home, do not be surprised if the dog has been destructive or has a potty accident, as these are ways of coping with stress.
3. Leave the pets at home. It is never a good idea to take a dog to a fireworks display or to have them outside when setting off fireworks. Some dogs try to chase and catch the fireworks and can be seriously injured.
4. Inside is best. Provide pets with a safe, quiet and secure area within the house. This is especially important if no one will be home with the pet. Turning up a television or radio to help buffer the noise from outside will also help minimize stress.
5. Identification is a must. Make sure pets are wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date information. This is a good time to make sure pets are microchipped and that the chip is registered with your current contact information.
In severe cases of anxiety or fear, seek advice from a veterinarian, as medication may be needed. The last thing we want is for an already frightened dog to be in distress and roaming the streets.
Finally, after all the fun is said and done, check the yard for any fireworks debris before letting the pets out so they do not ingest anything harmful.
Let’s ring in 2022 with all family members — including the furry ones — safe, healthy and accounted for!
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.