It’s almost Christmas and we are sure you’ve already made plans to keep your houndie safe and happy over the holiday. But have you thought about New Year’s Eve yet? NYE can be one of the most distressing times for animals, and it is important to keep in mind the hazards fast approaching. Loud music and parties, fireworks, and owners keeping unusual hours can all lead to distress. The pounds are at their most full on New Year’s Day with escaped pets. Don’t let your hound be one of them! A distressed and anxious dog can cause harm to themselves, and others if their anxiety escalates too much. It is important to recognise the behavioural signs of nervousness and act accordingly to keep your pet happy and healthy. Vet clinics are extremely busy New Year’s Day treating injuries sustained after panicking and attempting to escape, or managing to escape and being hit by a car. The number one consideration is to not leave your pets unattended for long periods of time – if you are going away even for a day and night they can’t fend for themselves – make arrangements for someone to look after them for you.
Is your animal’s registration up to date with your current address and contact details? If you are unsure you can contact your local council to check, all you need is your pet’s microchip number. Not sure what it is? Can’t find the paperwork? Ask your vet to scan for you. If your animal manages to escape this is how you can be reunited.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and ID tag, with your contact number. This should be standard in any case as it is a legal requirement in NSW for a dog to be wearing a collar and ID tag whenever they out of your property. If your pet escapes this is the easiest and quickest way for you to be reunited as anyone finding your hound won’t have to wait for the vet or council to open to look for a microchip – extra important on public holidays when more time will lapse while you frantically search for your pooch.
If you are going out for the night DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET OUTDOORS. Pets left outdoors are more likely to be frightened and escape in an effort to find a safe place than if they are secure indoors.
Take your hound for long walk, and spend time playing with he or she so they are tired and more likely to sleep while you are not at home. Giving a meal afterwards will leave them with a full belly which will also make them more sleepy. It also helps to not make a big deal about leaving the house, just go quietly without making a big fuss.
If you haven’t had your pet for very long and don’t know how he or she reacts to loud noises or thunderstorms just yet – the best thing to do is to not leave your pet alone. If you know your pet does not cope well in thunderstorms, chances are fireworks are going to be just as scary. If you aren’t sure what behavioural signs to look for, anxiety will manifest in various forms such as:
- Lip licking
- Tail between legs
- Whining or barking a lot
- Pacing, restlessness
- Clawing at doors to get in or out
- Destroying bedding, furniture or similar
What you can do:
- If the anxiety is mild you can try putting the radio onto soothing music such as classic FM or putting on a CD of similar music. Leaving the television on is also comforting.
- Close windows and draw blinds
- Put your pet in a room where they will not hurt themselves. Leave them with their favourite bedding and toys. You can also leave puzzle treats such as a Kong or hide small puzzle treats around the room for a longer treasure hunt to distract them.
Know where your hound is! When unofficial fireworks start locate your dog quickly and put them somewhere safe, near you so you can monitor them.
If your hound has a higher level of anxiety, consider spending the night elsewhere – take your pooch somewhere quiet where they won’t hear the fireworks. This may take a bit of advance planning but a worthwhile consideration.
Or if you live somewhere that doesn’t have fireworks why not organise a NYE Pooch Party and invite your hound’s doggy friends and humans over? That way you can all celebrate the new year but know your pets are safe and supervised? No one misses out!
If this isn’t possible and your hound has a history of severe anxiety (known to your vet) chat to your hound’s dogtor about sedatives to assist in keeping he or she calm for the night. DON’T leave this option to the last minute, as this is something that will need to be properly assessed by the vet.
Have a happy and safe new year every doggy!