It’s almost 2018 and I’m sure there are many who are planning their New Year’s Eve plans and celebrations. Celebrating and coming together with family and friends can be a wonderful way to bring in the new year, especially during the cold, short days we’ve been having here in the northern hemisphere! But during these celebrations, it’s important to keep an eye on how your pet might be handling any potential fireworks or large crowds.
One of the nice things about living in the Pacific Northwest during this time of year is that while there are large firework shows at places like the Space Needle and Seattle Center, there aren’t many other firework shows. During this time of the year, it’s almost always raining and it tends to be on the chilly side so being outside for any amount of time for fireworks isn’t particularly fun.
But if you live near the Space Needle or near any places that do have firework shows to celebrate the new year, there’s a chance that your pet might be stressed out when the new year begins because of the loud noises. The good news is that there are a few ways to at least minimize how stressed your pet might get, especially if you have a dog.
The best way to really handle celebrating the new year with your pets is to plan ahead! This means knowing if there might be fireworks in your area and planning for the noise and stress of them. It also means having a plan for your pets if you’re going to be at a party or even hosting one.
For dogs, one way to help is to tire them out during the day. Depending on their age and what they’re able to do, this could mean going on a few short walks, going to the dog park plus a walk, or even going on a hike. As an example: on the Fourth of July this year, I went on a 40 minute walk with Rooster in anticipation of fireworks later in the day. This was a big walk for him and he was exhausted the rest of the day! Because of that, he slept right through the few fireworks we had around the neighborhood. The important thing is to tire them out without overdoing it – each dog is going to have different abilities on a walk or hike. Nowadays, Rooster’s good for maybe 15-20 minutes around the neighborhood but Milo could easily walk for over an hour with no problem.
It’ll also be important to have a safe space for all your animals during the night. Some dogs feel safe in a crate with their favorite blanket; other pets might appreciate having a quiet room just to themselves if you’re hosting a party. However, leaving your pet outside might not be the best option if you think there might be fireworks happening, as they might try to run away out of fear.
Parties with lots of human food and drinks might not be the best place for dogs, as people food tends to be very rich or not digestible for dogs. If you do host a party or bring your pup along, it’ll be important to keep an eye on what your dog is getting into. Ask if people can keep an eye on where they place their food and drinks and to keep an eye on the doors leading outside. Maybe avoid a plethora of noisemakers and party horns, as a whole bunch of noise all at once might be overwhelming.
You also might want to try other remedies as well! You could do massages for your pets to help calm them down and there are even sweaters that hug your pup to help ease anxiety. Many of the options I’ve mentioned already are drug free but if your pet gets too anxious and stressed out, it might be good to talk to your vet about these issues and to see if they have any solutions. Giving your pets any sort of drugs to help with anxiety and stress should really only happen with a veterinarian’s approval.
Ultimately though, you know your pets best and can plan for the new year celebrations. Relatively long walks and quiet nights with just a few people work so well for Rooster. We’ve tried over remedies like a thunder shirt with him over the years but for him, there’s nothing quite like walks and cuddles.