New Year’s Eve celebrations typically involve much fanfare and excitement, but between the fireworks and the midnight toast, the festivities can pose many problems for your pet. Our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital would like to help by providing some tips to help you protect your pet as the ball drops.

#1: Ensure your pet is appropriately identified

The loud partygoers and bombastic fireworks display may spook your pet, causing them to run away. Ensure they have proper identification in case they go missing during the celebration. Microchipping is the best way to provide permanent identification for your pet and greatly increases their chances of being returned if they get lost. However, even if your pet has been microchipped, they still should wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information.

#2: Create a safe pet haven

Ensure your pet has a safe area they can escape to if the revelry or fireworks noise becomes too scary or overwhelming. Some pets are social creatures, but they still may need a retreat if they get tired or want a break from socializing. You also could consider restricting your pet to a quiet room in your home if they tend to be shy around strangers. Provide them with all of their creature comforts, including food and water bowls, comfortable bedding, toys, a litter box if needed, and a piece of your recently worn clothing to offer comfort. You also can give them a food puzzle toy to occupy them and serve as a distraction from the hubbub. Check on your four-legged friend frequently to ensure they aren’t becoming too anxious or stressed.

#3: Don’t let your pet toast the New Year

Pets are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and a small amount can cause major problems. Pets are innately curious and will investigate any beverage left unattended by a distracted guest. If they down some champagne or a festive cocktail, your pet could need a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital before the evening is over. Signs indicating alcohol poisoning include lethargy, lack of coordination, drooling, vomiting, and collapse.

#4: Prevent your pet from sampling the hors d’oeuvres

Any dietary indiscretion can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets, but certain foods that may be served at your New Year’s fete are toxic to them.

  • Allium vegetables — Vegetables such as onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots that are commonly used to season party foods contain a toxin that can damage your pet’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Signs include weakness, vomiting, and pale mucous membranes. You also may notice blood in their urine.
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that causes kidney failure in pets. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, and vomiting.
  • Chocolate — You may want to rethink the chocolate fountain if your pet will be in attendance. All forms of chocolate are toxic to pets, causing nervous system stimulation. Signs include restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

#5: Restrict your pet’s access to your guests’ belongings

Ensure your pet can’t investigate your guests’ bags or coat pockets. While exploring the interesting new smells and contents, they may encounter harmful medications, such as ibuprofen or heart medications, or xylitol, an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar-free gum and candy. This sugar substitute causes your pet to release insulin, causing a drastic drop in their glucose levels. Signs include weakness, lack of coordination, and seizures.

#6: Help your pet manage their fireworks fears

Some pets develop noise phobias when they encounter loud noises such as fireworks. These pets experience high stress levels that can affect their physical and emotional health. Signs that your pet has a phobia include hiding, urinating, defecating, chewing, drooling, panting, trembling, shaking, and vocalizing. Leaving these pets in a safe quiet room is not enough to mitigate their fears. Steps you can take to help your pet manage their phobia include:

  • Stay home — You may need to stay home to keep your pet company if they are severely affected by fireworks. They trust you, and your presence will help reassure them that they are safe.
  • Environmental modification — If you have a soundproof room, such as a finished basement, this is the best area for your pet during the New Year’s celebration. Other options include an interior room without windows or sound-absorbing curtains hung over windows. You also can turn on the television or calming music before the fireworks start. 
  • Behavior modification — You will need to start this process well before New Year’s Eve. Play an audio recording of fireworks noise at a level that doesn’t frighten your pet and give them treats while the audio is playing. Over several days or weeks, gradually increase the volume, treating them at each session, until they are comfortable with the noise.
  • Avoid punishment — Refrain from punishing your pet for frightened behavior. They are not misbehaving, and punishment will only exacerbate the situation.
  • Anti-anxiety medications — Your pet may benefit from anti-anxiety supplements or medications to help them manage the condition. Our veterinary professionals will be happy to help you determine if these products are right for your pet.

Following these tips will help you and your pet start the New Year off right. If your pet is affected by anxiety associated with noise, contact our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital so we can help alleviate their fear.