Cheers to the new year! We bid goodbye to the decade and await the dawn of a new era. This year’s festivities brings us fireworks, music, and sparks to welcome the fortitude ahead. It sounds like the perfect way to enter a new chapter in our lives but dogs don’t see it the same way. Loud noises and sudden bursts of light may be exciting to us and put us in the mood to party and dance the night away. However, our precious pups run and hide at the thought of our humanly celebrations.
This new year, have all the fun you want (you deserve it) but remember to keep your dog safe and sound while doing so. We want to bring them into the new year with us as happy as they can be.
Our pups can sometimes miss out on the festivities, so just give them a quiet night in. If you plan to go out for the new year — say Times Square? It’s best that you leave your dogs at home.
Handling a dog in a crowd can be a stressful and challenging situation. To a dog, there are plenty of dangers that present itself in a crowd such as:
(1) being stepped on
(2) tripped over
(3) getting roughhoused by small children
(4) the innate need for strangers to take out their cute aggression
(5) and so much more
Not to mention your dog's reaction to all the stimuli present around them. Large crowds come with sights, smells, and sensations that your dog may not be comfortable with or used to.
The new year festivity isn’t complete without food to share. The sensory overload of different scents is a wonderland for your dog. However, the food on your table may be toxic for your furry friends. Onions and garlic used in traditional pork or sauerkraut recipes can damage red blood cells, chocolate in numerous scrumptious desserts can affect the heart and nervous system, and grapes or raisins can lead to kidney failure — possibly even death in dogs. All of these foods that we've mentioned may also cause gastrointestinal problems, which could result in vomiting and diarrhea. Teach your dogs not to beg for food and for your guests not to give in to their adorable "puppy-dog-eyes." Feed your pets before the party starts and have treats on hand (just in case) for when your dogs are craving a little snack. And again, don’t hesitate to call an emergency veterinarian if your pet eats something they shouldn’t have!
Champagne, wine, and beer are not pet-friendly
Animals don't metabolize alcohol the way humans do. Ingesting small volumes of alcohol can cause severe damage to the liver, nervous system, and blood glucose levels, which could necessitate immediate hospitalization and could be fatal in advanced cases. Many dogs undergo acute kidney failure after eating grapes or products that contain grapes, such as wine or champagne. Long story short, keep your dogs far, far away from your drinks during the celebration! Contact your local emergency veterinarian if your dogs manage to sneak in some of your cocktails.
Fireworks and parties
Fireworks and a grand celebration come hand in hand with the new year. While we may enjoy these parties, these loud and chaotic events could pose a lot of stress to our dogs. Some dogs run and hide (and break the furniture in the process), others tremble, have bathroom accidents in the house, or bark excessively. If it's not a hundred percent sure that fireworks are avoidable, you need to take measures into your own hands. Set a safe space up for your dog with their favorite toys and bed in a quiet, confined area of your house. Avoid taking your dog outside during the fireworks show — this may worsen their anxiety and could result in your dog bolting away. If you're hosting the party at your house and your dog seems to be apprehensive around partygoers in silly hats, masks, or air horns, it's best you confine them to their safe space where they can be comfortable.
Before the festivities begin, prepare ahead for this noisy event by taking your dog for a long walk or by playing with them earlier in the day in an attempt to tire them out for the conceivably stressful evening. Ask your vet about medication for dogs with extreme anxiety. They could prescribe anxiety-reducing medications to help calm your dog down. Calming pheromone collars or diffusers could also be an option if you're not comfortable with giving your dog medicine.
Noise cancellation headphones
If all else fails, purchase noise cancellation headphones or a white noise machine for your dog to drown out the sound of fireworks. Surprisingly, dogs enjoy wearing headphones, especially larger breeds. They don’t see them as uncomfortable costume pieces. To your dogs, they’re a luxury! Besides, how cute would it be to have your dog walk around with a giant pair of headphones wrapped around their fluffy heads? If it’s not in the budget, you can always turn the television on. Turning on the TV or the radio will help muffle the sound, and the constant noise will help distract your dogs from the fireworks — soothing classical music will also help. Turn radio or TV on a couple of hours before the celebration begin so your dog can associate the noise with peace and comfort.
Loud noises, stress, anxiety, fireworks and a whole lot of other things could cause your dogs to spook and run away. New Year’s Eve is a prime time for dogs to run away. When hosting a party, keep your pets confined to their safe space. Preferably, one within the house so they can’t go running out the door when they get the chance. In preparation for the new year festivities, ensure your dogs' identification tags and microchip registrations are up-to-date just in case they run away!
Leashing your dogs
Never leave dogs leashed up or tethered outside because they're at risk of hanging themselves if they leap over a fence while trying to escape from the noise. If you need to take your dog out to do their business or if it’s necessary to keep them outside to prevent them from eating things at the party, use a harness instead and keep them away from places that they could jump over. And as much as possible, never leave your tethered dog unattended.
Don't fuss over your dog too much
As long as your dogs are safe and sound, try not to fuss over them too much, because it will make the situation seem like a bigger deal than it actually is and encourage their fearful behavior. Be calm and cheerful to show your dogs that everything is okay. Provide your dog with distractions, such as toys, games, activities, and yummy treats so that they associate the noise and bright lights with something positive. Also, never punish your dogs for being afraid because it will backfire and only make them more anxious.
Purchase a weighted blanket for your dog
We just want to put it out there. Buy a blanket appropriate for the weight of your dog. It shouldn’t be more than ten percent of their body weight. Now that that’s out of the way — weighted blankets are perfect for anxious dogs! It has become an anxiety-reducing trend among people in the past couple of years and just recently, people have been trying it out on their dogs. Weighted blankets simulate physical touch and the presence of their owners, so having one could trick our dog into thinking that he or she is being held. You can leave the weighted blanket in their safe space for them to snuggle under when things get a little too rowdy outside.
Be mindful of the decorations
Just because your dog wouldn't typically attempt to eat a noisemaker or wads of confetti doesn't mean they won't try to this new year’s. During a stressful event, your dog might do all sorts of things not-in-line with their behavior. If you do decide to decorate your home for the festivities, make sure you don't have any decorations lying on the floor for your dog to pick up and eat. If you're walking your dog down the street, keep a close eye on them so that they don't unintentionally eat something that they shouldn't.
Find a quiet place to celebrate
For smaller and more intimate celebrations, try going out of town if you want to spend your new years with your precious pets. If you live on a particularly loud street and you don’t have much planned for the night, consider going somewhere quiet and peaceful for the night.
Keep calm and carry on
It is essential that you keep calm during the celebration so you don't over excite your dog. If guests are coming over, keep the party away from your dogs as people tend to get excited around them. Can we blame them? This environment can create more stress for your pets and make them anxious or aggressive. Don’t forget to pet your dogs and talk to them in a soothing tone to reassure them.
Take your dogs to the vet before the new year
You want to start off your new year with happiness and good health, the same applies to your pets! It’s not the best feeling to start of the year with a sick pet, so make sure their vaccinations are up to date, that their weight is in a good place, and that your dogs were groomed to perfection!
You can accomplish more if you relax. Setting aside ten or fifteen minutes of happy time with your dog will make both of you feel better. Take a mini-break from the party to sit with your dog and give them a scratch. It will do wonders for both your stress-levels.
We at Illumiseen would like to wish you and your dogs a happy new year! Enjoy the fresh start of a new decade and hopefully more dogs to add to the family!