How to keep your pet calm and stress-free during New Year's fireworks

From playing classical music to giving them a cuddle: Vet reveals exactly how to tell if your pet is anxious during the New Year’s Eve fireworks – and shares ways to distract them

  • A veterinarian has shared his tips for keeping your pet calm this New Year’s Eve
  • Dr Tim Montgomery said animals are often stressed by the noise from fireworks 
  • Owners can distract their pet with their favourite toy or play loud classical music
  • Dr Montgomery also suggests keeping pets inside so they don’t run away
  • Some animals can be comforted with a cuddle while others want to be left alone 

A veterinarian has shared exactly how to help your pet stay safe and calm during the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

New Year’s Eve is a joyous occasion often featuring loud noises and sparkling lights, but it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for our furry friends. 

While most owners can tell when their pets are in a stressed state, Sydney Animal Hospitals Regional Clinical Director Dr Tim Montgomery said there are some lesser-known signs to look out for. 

Veterinarian, Dr Tim Montgomery, has shared some helpful tips and tricks for keeping your pet safe and calm during New Year’s Eve fireworks

‘People can often think yawning means their dog is sleepy or relaxed but it’s actually a very common sign they’re feeling anxious,’ he said. 

‘Also their “smile” from panting does not necessarily mean they’re happy.’

Dr Montgomery said pacing, lip licking, whining and barking are also common stress signals in dogs.   

Cats get just as spooked by loud fireworks noises but display their anxiety in a more subtle way.

The animal doctor said they often hide, become withdrawn, pin their ears back or crouch close to the ground when they walk. 

‘Pets in these situations genuinely think the world is ending when they hear these noises,’ he said.

‘If you put yourself in that situation, there’s not much someone else can do to reassure you, however we can do our best.’ 

Below Dr Montgomery offers his advice on how to minimise your pet’s stress and keep them safe on New Year’s night.   

New Year’s Eve is a joyous occasion, full of loud noises and sparkling lights, but it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for our furry friends. 

Distract them with a toy or loud music

‘While it sounds obvious, anything you can do to distract your dog can help,’ Dr Montgomery said. 

Signs of fear and anxiety in dogs 


Licking lips

Panting when not hot or thirsty

Brow furrowed, ears to the side

Moving in slow motion

Acting sleepy or yawning

Hypervigilance and looking in many directions

Suddenly won’t eat

Moving away


Source: Dr Sophia Yin 

He suggests playing loud classical music to drown out some of the bangs from noisy fireworks.  

‘Classical music has been shown in studies time and time again to be helpful in calming dogs,’ he said. 

The animal doctor said to keep your cat or dog in a well-insulated room to minimise the noise and draw the curtains so they can’t see the flashing lights. 

Distracting them with their favourite chew or toy can also lower their stress levels. 

Comfort them with a cuddle

Dr Montgomery said, just like people, not all dogs like affection when they’re in a panicked state but some can be comforted with a cuddle. 

‘Putting firm pressure on the shoulders and around their chest can sometimes be calming for some dogs but others would rather just be left alone,’ he said.  

Stay calm 

Dr Montgomery said it’s important to stay calm yourself as your dog will look to you for reassurance. 

‘Its quite common for owners to notice that their dog seems to be coming to them for affection but then doesn’t want it in the end,’ he said. 

‘What the dog is trying to do is basically look to you to help them feel better.’

Dr Montgomery said to distract your pet with their favourite toy or play loud classical music to drown out the noise of fireworks

Keep them inside

If possible Dr Montgomery recommends keeping your pet inside so they don’t get spooked and run away.  

‘Every time there are fireworks vets and pounds are inundated with dogs that have run away from home,’ Dr Montgomery said. 

‘Ideally keep your dog inside because in their panic they will often break out of a backyard.’

If possible, Dr Montgomery recommends keeping your pet inside so they don’t get spooked and run away.

For the future

There are ways to reduce your animal’s anxiety around fireworks as well as thunderstorms in the long run, Dr Montgomery said. 

‘If your pet is anxious about fireworks they’re probably also scared of storms – a lot of people struggle with this but don’t realise that their vet might be able to help,’ he said.  

‘Pay a visit to a vet with an interest in behavioural medicine as they can advise on a number of medications that can make an enormous difference.’  

Where cases of anxiety are more mild, Dr Montgomery said owners can slowly desensitise their animals to the sounds that cause them stress. 

‘You can intermittently play recordings at low volumes and increase the volume slowly over weeks to months to get them used to the noise. 

There are also a number of products like thunder shirts, storm jackets and pheromone collars that work to alleviate stress in some animals. 

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