While Yuletide treats, gifts and holiday bouquets are probably making their way out of your home, the season isn’t over just yet. There’s still one more holiday we are counting down the days to, so before you break out the noisemakers and champagne, read these tips to prepare for a fun and safe New Year’s Eve with your pets.
Keep Pets Indoors
As a general rule, keep your dog inside. If you are hosting a New Year’s Eve party, think ahead and dedicate a room or a confined space to your dog. Fill the space with your dog’s bed sheets. some food, and other familiar items. This room will be your dog’s safe place during the evening. NEVER leave your dog outdoors on New Year’s Eve. If your plans take you elsewhere, hire a sitter to help keep your pet calm in your absence.
Dogs are very curious animals. To counter the intriguing action of New Year’s Eve, you have to find alternative ways to entertain your dog. Surround pets with their favorite toys and other familiar objects. Sometimes the smell of an article of clothing from your laundry can help comfort them. Play soothing music and keep the room as quiet as possible by closing doors, windows, and blinds. Always make sure that your dog has access to water and food. Keep their daily routines; your dog should not feel that something is different. By doing this, your dog will feel more relaxed and less inclined to run off if scared.
Avoid bringing your dog outside during the peak of the fireworks. If possible, schedule a longer walk early while it’s still light outside, and shorter bathroom breaks before midnight. It might also be a good idea to close the curtains or drapes, as some pets seem to get frightened by flashes and the looks of fireworks in the sky. Take your dog outside on a leash. Feed your pet before the festivities begin, leash them and walk them outside to take care of business. Even if your yard is fenced—if there is the remotest chance for neighborhood fireworks—use the leash; never leave your anxious dog to their own devices. A panicked dog may try to find a way out of their enclosure.
Some dogs respond well to a compression shirt, which is thought to induce calm by “swaddling” the dog. These jackets are available commercially, or you can make yourself one with an ace bandage. Developed to calm anxious dogs during thunderstorms, they are also known to help with fireworks and other loud noises. Consult your vet about an anti-anxiety preparation for your dog, but don’t wait ‘til New Year’s Eve to do it: most vets will not hand you a prescription at the last minute. Instead discuss a course of treatment for your dog’s anxiety as part of their routine care so a solution is ready when you need it
You may be planning a night out with family and friends to celebrate the oncoming New Year, which means that your pet might be home alone with loud, confusing noises coming from outside. Before you go out, do a quick double check around the house to make sure that all exits are secured, and do what you can to make your pet feel comfortable and safe in your home.
Fireworks are part of ringing in the new year, but for our dogs the flash of lights and loud noises are often anything but celebratory. Some dogs don’t seem to mind them, but fireworks—and loud music and New Year’s Eve revelry in general—send others into a blind panic. Not only will you want to ensure that your pet has a safe, comfortable place to find sanctuary away from the booming sounds of fireworks, but you should also remember that dogs will eat anything—even if does not seem like it would taste good! Be sure to monitor poppers, noisemakers and explosives before, during, and after displays, and always keep a close eye on your pet to prevent any potential problems.
Consider drowning out the fireworks noise by turning on the TV or music. Dogs hear the fireworks significantly louder than we do, so the sound might confuse or frighten them. There are also sound effects you can use to desensitize your dog, or sound therapy. You can try to desensitize your pooch on the day of the festivities by making loud noises throughout the day in the hopes that by nightfall he’ll have gotten used to it, but this is a strategy that does not work on all dogs. It’s better to take a long view of the problem instead of waiting until the last minute.
New Year’s Eve is a unique holiday, and it’s one time of year when a large number of pets get into alcohol. Your dog or cat may find the smell of alcohol appealing. Alcoholic beverages can be harmful to a dog or cat. Keep alcoholic beverages out of your dog’s reach. Alcohol ingestion in pets can lead to depression, unsteady walking, vomiting, and in severe cases, a serious drop in blood pressure and body temperature. Just one mixed drink can be fatal for a small dog.
The biggest risk of all this New Years Eve is that pets will get loose and become lost. Even if a pet is secured inside, the sound of noisemakers, gunfire, and fireworks can cause them to enter an extreme panic mode – sometimes even breaking through glass windows. Make sure your pets are licensed, microchipped and wearing identification tags. This may seem like silly advice if your dog’s already inside on New Year’s Eve, but anxious dogs can still make a break for it during fireworks. All it takes is one careless partygoer who leaves a door open, and a determined pooch. Keep your pets in a personalized collar with I.D. tags and make sure their microchip contact info is current.