Not all dogs are party animals – here’s how to minimise the stress

Keep your pet calm and safe through the seasonal celebrations

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Fireworks lighting up the sky, music pumping, champagne corks popping to welcome in the new year…yes, it’s officially the biggest party of the year.

But for some pets, the noise and upset of partying can be distressing – not least because their hearing is so much more acute than ours. Dogs and cats hear at higher and lower frequencies, and those radar-like, moveable ears can isolate and identify sounds in a way we never could. So bangs, noise and whistles can be alarming as well as potentially painful.

If a public celebration or a neighbour’s party is coming up, there’s lots you can do to prepare and protect your pet.

First, and most importantly, keep pets indoors. Fear triggers flight, and if your dog or cat runs away there’s no guarantee they’ll come home again – another good reason to get them microchipped and check that their ID tag is in place.

Secure cat flaps, and prepare a safe room where your dog or cat can retreat if it all gets too much – and this is also essential if you’re entertaining yourself and have a shy pet who doesn’t appreciate your lively friends and party music. Extra blankets will allow burrowing to help with feeling secure. If your pet prefers to squeeze themselves under an inaccessible piece of furniture, don’t attempt to coax them out. If that’s where they feel safe, they’re best left alone.

When there’s a lot of noise outside, it can help to keep the TV or radio on, or to play music at a normal volume if this is a familiar noise, as it’ll help to dampen the sounds from outside. If you know your dog is likely to get really upset, talk to your vet about whether it’s worth considering medication to help, but never give your pet anything that’s not been prescribed.

Synthetic pheromones can be used to calm your pet, and are available in a diffuser, spray or collar, but these will only help in mild cases where a pet may be distressed by loud noises but isn’t actually scared of them. Cat pheromone sprays and diffusers mimic the ‘safe’ pheromones that cats leave when they rub their faces on the furniture (and you!), but you’ll need to use these a week or two before the big night for them to work effectively.

Distraction is always a good bet, so buy in a few new toys and treats – a food-reward toy like a Kong will go down well and keep your dog busy and happy. Pre-empt problems by going for a good long walk when there’s still daylight, with as much chasing and ball-retrieving as possible. If he’s tired out from lots of exercise, he’s more likely to cope well with unfamiliar noise later in the evening.

As a party host yourself, it’s often best to keep your nervous dog or cat in a quiet room, not least because dogs can be so appealing as they beg for food from guests who may find it irresistible to give unsuitable – and potentially poisonous – snacks like macadamia nuts and chocolate.

Hopefully your preparations will help keep your pet calm, healthy and happy for the new year, but knowing your pet is insured if things do go wrong gives you peace of mind. Petplan’s Covered For Life® policies provide ongoing cover, right into the old age of your pet. Find out more about Petplan’s Pet Insurance here.

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