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Remember Pets Welfare on Australia Day

21 January 2015
Australian Veterinary Association

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is asking pet owners to protect their animals from the noise of fireworks on Australia Day, Monday 26 January.

AVA spokesperson, Dr Robert Johnson, said that the fear of fireworks and other forms of noise phobia are common problems in pets.

“While watching fireworks can be fun for us, animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs can not only cause pain in their ears but also make the bravest of pets frightened.

“A large proportion of dogs are prone to noise-related phobias, often brought on by exposure to events like thunderstorms and fireworks displays. Even a single experience can cause long-term damage.

“And it’s not only cats and dogs that suffer, other pets including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds and horses can also be affected,” he said.

Common signs to look for include hiding, urinating, chewing, panting, pacing, trying to escape, drooling, trembling or shaking and excessive barking. There are even situations where dogs may become destructive, injure themselves or put themselves in harm’s way.

“I’ve seen a dog rip out all its claws from trying to escape a pen and another dog throw itself through a plate glass window due to fear of the fireworks.

“Dogs often go missing as a result of fireworks as well.”

Pet owners should take the following simple precautions to protect their pets on Australia Day:

  • Keep dogs and cats inside. Close all the windows and doors to stop them from escaping and keep noise to a minimum. Prepare a place where it can feel safe and comfortable like an interior room or under a bed. Allow them to hide if they prefer. Consider playing background music to muffle out the bangs.
  • If you have rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets or birds that are normally kept outside, bring their cages or hatches inside or into a garage or shed. Give them extra bedding to burrow into or cover the cages with thick blankets, ensuring there is enough ventilation.
  • For horses, try to remain calm and positive around them 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.

“The important thing is to help your pet cope and not to punish fearful behaviour as this will make it worse.

“Pet owners who believe that their animals will be affected should talk to their local vet as soon as possible to work out what’s best for their pets. Sometimes medication is needed to help reduce anxiety in pets and the earlier you seek help the better” Dr Johnson said.

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