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Keeping Pets Safe (and Calm!) for New Year’s Eve

By Colleen Williams
December 27, 2017 • 3 min. read
woman hugging dog in front of twinkle lights

Just like Independence Day, New Year’s Eve can pose some difficulties for pets with anxiety, noise and even accidents. From fireworks to a party chock full of people, dogs and cats can get stressed out or sick for the big celebration of ringing in the new year. Here are some tips to help keep them calm and out of harm’s way:

Get Outta Dodge

Veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter (MS, DVM; author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide) says, “The best way to deal with fireworks is avoidance. If it is possible to be somewhere where the noise is minimal, that would be best.”

If you can’t find a place that is firework-free (or at least firework noise-free), Dr. Richter suggests trying treats with CBD oil or Rescue Remedy. Pet parents also have been known to give pets St. John’s Wort, valerian, or melatonin – check with your vet to see if these are okay for your cat or dog. One more thing: give any supplements or remedies to your pet about an hour before midnight, as it can be harder to calm a pet down after the fact.

Another trick for the big booms: dressing your pup in a Thundershirt or similar anxiety-reducing top, and designating a safe, quiet space for cats – whether that’s making a rest area in a closet or even under the bed.

Avoid bringing your dog outside during the peak of the fireworks. If possible, schedule a longer walk early while it’s still light outside, and shorter pee breaks before midnight. It might also be a good idea to close the curtains or drapes, as some pets seem to get frightened by flashes and the looks of fireworks in the sky.

Consider drowning out the fireworks noise by turning on the TV or music. Dogs hear the fireworks significantly louder than we do, so the sound might confuse or frighten them. There are also sound effects you can use to desensitize your dog, or sound therapy.


Remember that holiday safety rules still apply! Last year (and the year before), stomach-related conditions were at the top of the list of reasons to visit the vet, so keep in mind toxic treats and ingesting foreign objects are still hazards worth avoiding. Here are some other winter watch-outs:

  • If your Christmas tree is still up and beginning to dry out, sweep up those pine needles, tinsel and any ornaments that may have dropped. Furthermore, if your tree has started to weaken, it can fall, injuring a curious cat or dog. Restrict your pet to areas where they are safe, or dispose of your tree early if this is the case.
  • Holiday plants like poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep them on shelves or opt for faux plants. Keep in mind even plastics can be a choking hazard, if you have a particularly inquisitive pet.
  • Keep party favors and toxic treats out of paw’s reach! Especially anything chocolate, raisin-loaded, or alcohol. For a full list of toxic foods and substances, read through our blog, 31 Common Pet Poisons or visit the Pet Poison Helpline (PPH). Good news for those in trouble – the Healthy Paws plan covers the PPH incident fee just as they would an emergency vet visit.
  • Exercise caution with candles, fireworks and sparklers. A probing pet could end up with severe burns, or even knock a candle over with a wag of the tail and start a fire. Keep candles up on a shelf or only lit while you’re in the room.
  • Create a safe space for your pet. The holiday celebrations can be exhausting for humans and pets alike with guests and changing of routines. Make sure there’s a safe space for your pet to retreat to.  If you have guests over who think it’s funny to scare pets with firecrackers, noisemakers or even tempt fate with a sparkler, keep your pet in a secure area away from said guest (and maybe don’t invite them again next year).

Cold Weather Reminders

January can be a frigid time of the year, depending on where you live. Remember to keep pets inside if the temperatures are too low – if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Also, pets locked indoors cannot get into poisonous fluids like engine oil, coolants, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure pets don’t stray into the garage (which can house all those car fluids as well as fertilizer and pesticides) and clean up all hazardous material spills immediately.

Before starting your car, check under the hood and in other nooks and crannies to verify that a cat or small animal isn’t hiding out for warmth. And finally, when walking your dog, steer clear of puddles, which can be tainted with pollution and chemicals. Always clean your dog’s paws after a walk to prevent accidental ingestion of pollutants.

Being mindful of the hazards during this time of year can save you a lot of heartache! However, should an accident occur, you’ll be glad knowing that you’re covered by the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance plan. If you’re not already part of the pack, start by getting a free quote today.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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