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Celebrating New Year’s With Your Pets

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The holidays are a joyous time of celebration for us, but can pose unexpected hazards to you pets. New Year’s celebrations can present opportunities for our pets to get themselves (and us) into trouble. From guests, noises, food, and decorations pets can find themselves in situations that can be anxiety producing or unsafe. Here are some tips to help reduce some of the stress that comes with fun celebrations.

  1. Provide a safe space for your pets. Guests are an important part of any celebration. Remember that extra people can be exciting and stressful. Whether your pet is overstimulated or fearful, you may want to consider providing a quiet “safe space” for them to retreat to. For dogs, this may mean a separate room, a comfy crate if they are used to that, or even leaving a door open to a room that they can choose to retreat to. For cats, the safe space should include a litter box. Also, consider providing your cat with a new, cat-sized cardboard box! Cats love boxes—leave one out and your cat can use it to hide in while still keeping on eye on the festivities.
  2. Have a plan for managing noise. Noise is another source of stress for many pets. It can be as simple as the doorbell ringing repeatedly as guests arrive to loud, unexpected noises like fireworks. Boisterous celebrating can cause anxiety, fear, or overstimulation and many pets are noise-adverse. Sudden, loud, and unusual noises are scary and difficult for them to process. Noise-management can be part of your safe-space plan – sometimes white noise or a fan in a safe room can really help. If your reassurance and safe space preparations are not sufficient to keep your pet happy and calm, plan ahead and ask your veterinarian for medication that may help ensure a happy New Year’s celebration for everyone.
  3. Avoid giving your pet people food. Remember that holiday foods are fun for you, but potentially bad for pets. Try to prevent table or counter surfing and people sneaking people food as treats to your pets. It’s so tempting to treat them with fun foods! Dangerous foods include anything fatty (turkey skin, dishes with butter or other fats), foods that contain onion or garlic, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, xylitol (a common artificial sweetener found in many foods), and chocolate. You can still use some people foods to treat your pet, but be careful to choose things that are safe for them such as carrots, plain unseasoned pumpkin, veggies, or apples.
  4. Keep decorations out of reach. Do you keep your holiday decorations up for New Year’s or have a new set of fun decorations? Pets love to chew and play with decorations, but sometimes this can lead to intestinal blockages or other issues. Make sure to keep your pets safe by avoiding placing ornaments, strings of lights, or ribbons where they can reach them.
  5. Make pet safe travel plans. If you plan to travel, remember to leash your pet and have identification on them! An escape in an unfamiliar place might mean a lost pet. A microchip is another option that you can discuss with your veterinarian. A microchip is registered with your contact information. If your pet should get separated from you, the microchip can be scanned at any veterinarian’s office or animal shelter and you can be contacted so your pet can be returned home safe and sound.

New Year’s is one of those holidays that may be more fun for people than for our pets. Turn that around this year! Include your pet in your New Year’s plans. Recognizing the holiday from his or her point of view, can make the celebration safe and happy for them and, of course, for you.

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