Keep your pets safe and secure on Australia Day

Media release date: 
Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Tassie winThe Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) strongly advises pet owners to protect their animals from the noise of fireworks on Australia Day, Tuesday 26 January.

AVA President, Dr Robert Johnson, said that the loud and unexpected sound of fireworks can frighten some animals causing them to run away or injure themselves.

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

“A large proportion of dogs are prone to noise-related phobias, often brought on by exposure to events like thunderstorms and firework displays.

“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.

“Dogs and cats often go missing as a result of fireworks as well so ensure they are microchipped and wearing a collar and nametag so they can be easily reunited with you if they do go missing,” Dr Johnson said.

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.

“For dogs with high anxiety it’s probably best you either stay at home or arrange a friend or pet-sitter to look after them.

“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.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.


The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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