While we humans enjoy the spectacle of exploding rockets in the night sky, our pets might not be so pleased with the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve.

With Queensland’s largest ever fireworks show set to welcome in the New Year, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is reminding pet owners to follow some simple guidelines over the festive season to ensure their pets don’t suffer from the noise of fireworks.

“Dogs can try and run away and injure themselves in the process. They can sometimes end up several kilometres from home,” says AVA spokesperson Dr David Neck. “In other cases dogs have been known to jump through plate glass windows in fright or dig their way under fences that would normally contain them.”

While horses, cats and dogs are most at danger of bolting when they hear fireworks, your guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets and birds can also be greatly affected.

“Loud bangs can not only cause pain to their ears but can also make the bravest of pets frightened,” says Dr Neck.

Take the following precautions to ensure you keep your furry friends safe:
  • Move your dogs and cats inside. Close all windows and doors to stop them from escaping and keeping noise to a minimum. Prepare a place where they can feel safe and comfortable like an interior room or under the bed.
  • If you have rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets or birds that are normally kept outside, consider bringing their cages or hutches inside or into a garage or shed. Give them extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe or cover cages with thick blankets, ensuring there is enough ventilation.
  • For horses, try and remain calm and positive as horses can sense unease in a person and this might make things worse. If you know your horse reacts badly to loud noises speak to your vet or consider moving your horse for the night.

And look for these signs of noise phobia to detect distress in your pets: hiding, urinating, chewing, panting, pacing, trying to escape, drooling, trembling or shaking and excessive barking in dogs.

“The important thing is to help your pet to cope and not to punish this type of behaviour as this may increase fearful behaviour,” says Dr Neck. “If these behaviours arise, pet owners should talk to their local vet as soon as possible as they can be dealt with much more easily if they’re caught early.”

Is your pet afraid of fireworks? What do you do to help calm them down? Let us know!