BVA advises pet owners to be prepared for distress from fireworks

With New Year’s Eve just a few hours away, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued advice for owners to help keep their animals calm and happy if celebrations go off with a bang.

Noise from fireworks is capable of being as loud as a jet engine – reaching up to 150 decibels – so New Year’s Eve can very quickly become stressful for pets and owners alike.

The BVA is encouraging owners of dogs, cats and other pets which may be particularly sensitive to noise, to make sure they are prepared if they suspect their pet may become distressed.

With the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) saying that 3.2 million UK households have acquired a new pet since the start of the pandemic, the BVA is particularly concerned owners of ‘pandemic puppies’ and other new pets may underestimate the effect fireworks may have on their furry companions and is advising them to take precautions.

BVA president Justine Shotton said:

Fireworks may be a fun way to celebrate the start of a new year for humans but for many animals, the loud noises and bright flashes may mean it ends up being a really frightening evening.

“We know many households have welcomed new pets into their families and we are concerned that if proper measures to prepare them or support them on the night are not put into place these animals could become very distressed and not understand what’s happening.

“Whether your pet is a new addition or a long-loved member of your family, if you believe they suffer from noise phobia it is important that you contact your vet early to get advice on how to reduce stress.”

Signs of stress

“Signs they may be suffering from noise phobias may include being frightened of or running away from vacuum cleaners, crying children or loud bangs but they may also be more subtle, such as demonstrating a reluctance to be on their own or a change in facial expression or their normal behaviour.”

“If your pet is severely distressed by fireworks or other noises, BVA encourages pet owners to visit their vet to discuss treatment options.

Firework phobia can be effectively treated with behaviour-modification techniques, which can achieve long-term success with professional input and owner commitment and patience.

“It is particularly important owners act early this year as many vet practices are experiencing shortages, meaning there may be longer waits for requested appointments.”

Dr Shotton added: “Taking the time to prepare will help your pet feel calmer and safer in their home and will help you both to have a happy New Year’s Eve, rather than a stressful one.”