New Year’s Eve is no celebration for the four-legged. Many dogs are terrified of fireworks, bangs and explosions, but you can make a tiring night easier for the family’s four-legged friend.
The Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) therefore encourages all dog owners to take extra care of their dog on New Year’s Eve. “New Year’s Eve is very stressful for many dogs because they are afraid of loud noises. An anxious dog must not be alone on New Year’s Eve, and the dog must be shielded from the noises,” says Maria Været Veggeland in the Animal Welfare Section of the Food Safety Authority.
Tips for dog owners:
Do not leave your dog alone at home if it is afraid of loud noises or fireworks. It can reinforce loneliness and fear. If you need to go away, bring your dog.
Make sure the dog (and cat) do not get out and run away. Every year, scared animals run off, and need to be rescued.
Don’t bring your dog out to look at fireworks.
If the dog wants to hide, you should allow it.
Be with the dog, find a room where there is as little light flash and sounds as possible. If you have a basement room this could be a good place.
If you have the opportunity, take your dog to a place where there are not so many fireworks, such as a cabin.
Try to divert attention. Audio from the radio can work as “normalizing” for some dogs, while others are stressed by this. The firework sounds can drown out the sounds of the radio. Try it out.
Do not amplify the dog’s fear by comforting and showing concern. Pretend that nothing unusual is happening.
Activate the dog with indoor play, and give it something else to focus on.
Go for a long walk in the afternoon, so the dog is tired when the evening comes.
Give it food a little late, a full dog will be calmer.
Contact your veterinarian if the dog is really afraid of the fireworks. There are alternative solutions to alleviate anxiety. However, do not “self-medicate” with medicine given to another animal or in another context. By no means give the dog human medicine! Only veterinarians can prescribe medication for animals, and improper use of medication can aggravate the situation.
If sounds and bangs are a major problem, seek the advice of a veterinarian or behavioral therapist. It must be done well before the next New Year’s Eve.
Advice for puppies
You may want to get the dog used to fireworks from when it’s a puppy. Some people regularly play fireworks audio from a CD or audio file. Others walk past the shooting range to accustom the animal to sharp noises.
“Note that it is not just exposing the puppy to bangs and explosions. The training must be planned, otherwise you risk making the puppy even more anxious with the training,” Veggeland says.
Holidays can stress animals
Many pets experience changing routines during the Christmas holidays, which can be stressful for them. Remember that both dogs and cats need rest and many hours of sleep each day. Dogs love to be with their family. However, some dogs, especially young dogs, may find it difficult to relax in a hectic atmosphere, such as in family parties. Be sure to shield the animals if they are stressed.
Don’t give animals Christmas food
Both dogs and cats may benefit from some variation in the diet, but they may also get digestive problems if they are fed foods they are not used to. If your dog or cat is accustomed to one or a few types of food daily, it is advisable not to suddenly feed them unfamiliar foods. Stay away from fatty and salty foods, which can cause gastrointestinal problems; diarrhea, vomiting and, at worst, poisoning.
“If the dog is not used to eating bones, it can get diarrhea from them,” says Maria Været Veggeland of the Food Safety Authority.
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