Partying with pets: New Year’s edition

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Partying with pets: New Year’s edition  - A woman petting a dog at a festive dinner

New Year’s celebrations can bring holiday cheer and excitement, from fireworks displays to loud holiday music; attending dances, rooftop parties, or a rowdy dinner party with friends. Keep in mind what is fun for you may be less so for your furry friends. In the hustle and bustle of this celebratory season, it's important to try and keep your pets safe and calm. Here are some tips to help ensure your pets are well supported during all the chaos so you can watch the ball drop at midnight and enjoy the festivities:

  • Coordinate with party guests or hosts so you can proactively remove your pets before any showstoppers like fireworks, noise makers, firecrackers, etc.
  • Keep your pets out of alcohol and other toxic substances
  • Secure your home from escape
  • Make sure your guests are aware of pets in the home and know to avoid letting them out by mistake
  • Prepare a safe sanctuary away from the noise

Finally, if your furry friend is extra nervous around noise and activity, consider choosing them as your solo party companion and have a calm night in with them instead.

New Year’s Eve is a time of great anticipation for everyone—except your pets. Loud noises from fireworks, music, and parties, strange people, and lots of food, drinks, and holiday decorations for them to get into, makes New Year’s Eve a source of anxiety for your pets. Have no fear! With some thoughtful planning, both you and your furry friends can ring in the New Year safely and happily together.

How can I party and still keep my pets safe?

Around this time of year, many of us are taking down stockings, trees, and other holiday decorations, but the holiday cheer is still ongoing. New Year's Eve is the culminating event for holiday celebrants the world over, and many people like to greet the new year with a bang. Whether you plan on bringing your animals along for the festivities or leaving them at home, it's important to know what your animals can tolerate. Many pets struggle with exposure to loud noises coming from fireworks, noise makers, and firecrackers.

Loud noises can easily trigger dogs, cats, and other pets so ensure they have a safe sanctuary, whether at home or out at a party. Noise aversion, a phobia triggered by loud sounds, is a common form of pet stress. If the reaction is disproportionate to the noise's danger, your animals might be dealing with anxiety that can continue after the uproar ends. Noise aversion affects approximately one in three canines. Other animals experience this phobia less commonly, but cats can also be triggered by loud noises. When ringing in the new year, watch your animals. If they begin to whine, pace, vocalize, or become aggressive, they may not like the loud noises.

Help animals stay calm during New Year’s fireworks

Fireworks are a common cause of anxiety in canines. Follow these tips to keep them calm during the light display.

  • Create a safe space such as a closet, bathroom, or crate that doesn't have access to the outdoors
  • Consider bringing outdoor animals indoors for the duration of the show to avoid direct contact with bright lights and loud noises
  • During fireworks and noisemakers, play white noise or music in the safe space to mask the stimuli that may be causing anxiety
  • Expose animals to sounds at low volume while gradually increasing them to desensitize them to the noises beforehand
  • Know the signs of anxiety in your animal, such as panting or trembling
  • Use anxiety vests, or an alternative is a snug-fitting T-shirt to keep them at peace
  • Promptly clean up any substances, chemicals, foods, or garbage, including party favors and gift wrap, that may harm your pet

In severe cases, some pets benefit from medications during times of high anxiety or if they are going to be exposed to known triggers. Always consult a vet before administering medication to pets. A virtual vet can help assess if your pet with noise aversion is a good candidate for medication.

Animals tend to flee when frightened. Whether you are going out or staying in, it's important to take precautions to prevent your pets from escaping. Always ensure your animals have a form of ID attached to their collars at all times. Pets may get anxious during loud noises, including loud holiday music. So double-check that all exits are secured to avoid an unfortunate late-night emergency. Also, remove anything potentially harmful (plants, foods, medications) from reach so they don't get into trouble while you're celebrating.

Is alcohol bad for my pet?

New Year’s Eve parties tend to go hard on the libartions. It's important for pet parents to remember that animals can not consume any type of alcohol. Even one mixed drink can be fatal for a small dog or cat. Dogs especially love to sniff out food. Some snacks and drinks, such as chocolate or hot cocoa, can be filled with alcohol so keep anything alcohol-related out of pets' reach. Here are some symptoms of alcohol ingestion in pets:

With the legalization of cannabis (marijuana), more cases of animals getting into pot or edibles are popping up. Keep these out of reach as well, as this substance can harm animals. Here are some symptoms of cannabis ingestion in pets:

  • Unsteady
  • Sleepy
  • Jumpy or easy to startle
  • Dilated pupils
  • Urinary accidents

If you think your furry friends have gotten their paws into your New Year’s Eve party favors, contact a veterinarian immediately, as well as the APCC, to avoid the worst-case scenario.

Tips for keeping your pet happy during the festivities

A few other tips to keep your animals safe and secure while you are popping the champagne are:

  • Know your location. Whether at home, a friend's, or a vacation rental, make sure your furry family feels comfortable. Prepare safe spaces inside for them to spend the evening
  • Clean up food scraps promptly. Be sure to pick up any leftovers from festive treats and delicious food you and your friends devour, including hot cocoa. Human treats can cause an upset stomach in pets, and some - like chocolate - can cause life-threatening poisoning
  • Pick up packaging and hazardous decor. Keep party favors out of reach. Animals do not have the best judgment when deciding what is edible, so we must watch out for them
  • Coordinate with family and friends. Make sure your human companions are aware your pets are on the guest list so they don't inadvertently let your furry friends out or leave something dangerous within reach. If your party guests plan to bring pets, coordinate and supervise your pets’ interactions

What are some party alternatives I can enjoy with my pet?

While prepping for a safe evening for you and your beloved pets, relax and have fun. There are plenty of family activities you can enjoy with your pet if you're looking for something a little more low-key. Choose a cozy movie night with your pups on the couch. The internet loves funny snapshots of our pets in crazy costumes. Dress up your feline friend for the occasion and share with your friends. You can add food to the holiday cheer. Instead of human treats, bake your pets dog-friendly treats or holiday-themed cat treats. They might even thank you with a New Year’s slobbery kiss - if you’re lucky.

Whether you are toasting with your animals or not, come midnight, we want to ensure your furry family is safe and happy. If you have any concerns regarding your New Year's Eve outing and want to plan ahead, a virtual vet can answer all your questions any time, from anywhere.

Happy New Year!

FAQ - Avoiding New Year’s Eve stress with pets

Can a pet's hearing be affected by fireworks?

Pets’ ears can be damaged by loud noises the same as a human’s, but fireworks are usually not loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.

Are dogs safer from fireworks in the home or outside?

Even though you may think your pets want to be party animals as much as you do, dogs can be sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells. To avoid anxiety, leave your canine friends at home with some white noise in the background, like the TV or radio.

Do anti-stress jackets work for pets during loud activities?

Being swaddled in an anti-stress jacket seems to provide relief for some dogs, but doesn't work at all for others. They apply pressure along the dog's back, almost imitating a tight hug. Be sure to put the coat on your pet before the party begins so they can get used to it and not associate the vest with being frightened. Keep in mind that anti-stress jackets are only intended for use under supervision.

Can I leave my pet home alone while I go to New Year’s Eve festivities?

Yes, many pets prefer the safety, comfort, and familiarity of home over being included in holiday festivities.