When you’re making your New Year’s resolutions this year, keeping your pet safe is likely at the top of your list, so before you pop the champagne cork and sing Auld Lang Syne, take a few precautions to protect your pet from potential holiday hazards. Our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital wants to help, so we are providing New Year’s pet-safety do’s and don’ts.
DO keep your pet inside during the festivities
New Year’s eve presents many potentially frightening factors for your pet. Loud, raucous party-goers and booming fireworks displays can easily upset your pet and cause them to bolt, but keeping them inside will help prevent them from getting lost during all the commotion. Create a safe haven in an interior room in your home so they have a quiet retreat if the evening’s revelry becomes overwhelming. Shy pets, or those who are easily stressed, should be restricted to this safe zone if guests are coming to toast the New Year.
DON’T let your pet go unidentified
Keeping your pet indoors during the festivities is a great strategy to prevent them from getting lost, but an enterprising pet can still find ways to sneak out an unsupervised door when you are distracted. Ensure they have proper identification in case they go missing during the party. The best way to provide permanent, reliable identification for your pet is having them microchipped, and then ensuring you keep your information current in the microchip company’s database. All pets should also wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information.
DO exercise your pet before the party begins
Take your dog for a vigorous game of fetch, or use a laser pointer to entice your cat to run around the house. Working off your pet’s excess energy will leave them tired, and less stressed, for the New Year countdown.
DON’T share the party food with your pet
Let your guests know that your pet is not allowed any party food. Any dietary indiscretion can result in gastrointestinal (GI) upset, and high-fat foods are especially problematic, potentially causing pancreatitis. In addition, particular human foods are toxic to pets, including:
- Chocolate — Whether in baked goods, candy, or streaming from a fountain, chocolate is dangerous for pets. Theobromine and caffeine, the toxins found in chocolate, cause nervous system stimulation in pets. Signs include restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Onions — Vegetables such as onions, leeks, garlic, and chives are dangerous for pets, because they contain N-propyl disulfide, a toxin that causes your pet’s red blood cells to break down, resulting in anemia. Signs include weakness, vomiting, pale mucous membranes, and blood in their urine.
- Grapes — Grapes and raisins are dangerous, because they contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
DO choose pet friendly decorations
When making your home festive for ringing in the New Year, choose decorations that won’t harm your pet. Decorations to avoid include:
- Small objects — Any small trinkets, such as ornaments or noise makers, can accidentally be swallowed, causing a GIl obstruction that may require surgery.
- Tinsel — Cats are especially drawn to this sparkly adornment, but if they ingest a piece, the tinsel can cause a linear foreign object GI obstruction, which could lead to intestinal perforation if not surgically removed.
- Toxic plants — Several common decorative holiday plants, including holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, and lilies, are toxic to pets.
DON’T let your pet sip spirits
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), numerous pets accidentally consume alcohol during New Year’s. Pets can’t handle their alcohol, which can cause vomiting, depression, incoordination, and, in severe cases, a drop in blood pressure and body temperature.
DO recognize if your pet is noise-phobic
If your pet is noise phobic, the New Year’s fireworks displays may cause them extreme stress and anxiety. Affected pets exhibit signs including panting, running away, hiding, excessive salivation, trembling, and urinating or defecating. This condition is not a training or obedience issue, and punishing your pet for these behaviors is contraindicated, and will only exacerbate the situation. Steps that will help your pet include:
- Environmental management — Keep them in a quiet room, and have music or white noise playing before the fireworks begin. Stay with your pet if possible, because your presence will comfort them if they become stressed. You can also offer a food-puzzle toy to help distract them.
- Desensitization and counterconditioning — Play an audio recording of fireworks noise at full volume to confirm the noise frightens your pet. If they display anxiety, turn the volume down until they no longer react to the noise, and give them a high-value treat. Gradually increase the noise during several sessions over days and weeks, offering treats when they stay calm, until they remain stress-free when the noise is at full volume.
- Medications — Anti-anxiety supplements and medications are available to help pets who don’t respond to other approaches. Our veterinary professionals will help you determine if a supplement or medication is right for your pet.
Avoid a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital as you ring in the New Year by following these do’s and don’ts. If you think your pet may be a candidate for an anti-anxiety supplement or medication, contact our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital, so we can help them have a stress-free start to their New Year.