This article has been updated.
New Year’s Eve is for celebration: drinks, dancing, music, laughter, and maybe even some fireworks. But what you may consider a great party can be downright traumatic for your dog.
A house full of strangers (or just rowdy household members), reckless dance movements, shouting, noisemakers, corks popping, and too many pairs of legs and feet to avoid can be extremely stressful for our pups. Add in some fireworks, and stress may become actual terror.
Here are some tips to keep your dogs safe and as stress-free as possible while you work on the next-day’s hangover.
Keep Alcohol Away
Unfortunately, it’s the time of year when a lot of dogs get access to alcohol — and some may end up in the hospital. Depending on the size and health of the dog, consuming even a small amount of alcohol can be lethal. Dog’s kidneys and liver cannot process it. Even absorbing alcohol through the skin can cause alcohol poisoning.
Symptoms include vomiting, drooling, disorientation, increased thirst, lethargy, low body temperature, low blood pressure, seizures and respiratory failure. Alcohol can also cause serious damage to the liver, blood glucose, and the nervous system.
While dogs generally don’t like the taste of alcohol, some dogs like beer and sweet, fruit-based cocktails. Make sure that your dog cannot get access to any alcoholic beverages, including the little left in the bottom of glasses and any liquor-soaked food. Let your guests know not to give your dog anything alcoholic. If you aren’t confident or can’t keep an eye on things, provide your dog with a crate or bed in a quiet room away from the party. Keep the door closed and have a sign for guests stating this area is off limits.
Ensure Other Substances Are Out of Reach
In 2022, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reported a 300 percent increase in calls about marijuana ingestion over the past five years. This may be due to the increase in marijuana edibles like brownies, gummies, and candy. Even second-hand smoke from marijuana can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms may include lethargy, dilated pupils, dazed expression, impaired coordination, difficulty walking, vomiting, whining or crying, agitation, urinary incontinence, and depending on the dogs, seizures and coma.
Be sure that your dog can’t get to marijuana, especially any edibles. If there is an abundance of smoke (cigarette or marijuana), either put your dog in another room with the window cracked open for fresh air, open all the windows in the room with the smoke, or ask your guests to smoke outside. Note that this does NOT include any products labelled as CDB oil, hemp oil or CBG oil. Those products contain very, very little to no THC, which is the substance that causes intoxication.
Learn What Food is Dangerous to Dogs
Human food is often too rich for dogs, meaning the fat content is too high. High-fat foods can lead to a condition called pancreatitis in dogs. This is a serious disease and often requires hospitalization. Pancreatitis can become chronic, and your dog may need medication and treatment for the rest of her life. So, it’s important to keep fatty party foods out of your dog’s reach. These include ham, sausage, chicken and turkey with skin, bacon, ribs, chicken wings, and cheeses, to name a few.
Cooked bones are also dangerous, as they can splinter and puncture the esophagus or damage your dog’s teeth.
Other foods to keep out of reach are grapes, onions, chocolate, raisins, soda, candy, gum, any product with the artificial sweetener xylitol, very salty snacks like pretzels and chips, mixed nuts and snack mix.
If you feel really bad that your dog is missing out (or you don’t trust your guests’ ability to resist your dog’s puppy dog eyes), put out bags (not bowls, unless you want an inebriated friend to chow down on biscuits) of dog treats that your guests can use when the urge to feed your dog strikes.
Plan for the Fireworks’ Show
Dogs and fireworks are not a good mix; most dogs find fireworks terrifying. If you live in an area with New Year’s Eve fireworks, be prepared in advance. Provide your dog with a quiet, safe place to retreat from the noise. Set up a room as far away from the loud sound as possible and play a white noise app or a recording of something soothing, like waves or classical music. Keep your windows closed. If your dog is particularly phobic, consider getting a Thundershirt, investing in CBD oil, getting medication from your vet, or even going somewhere for the holidays that’s quiet.
Keep any fireworks you may have away from your dog. Some dogs will eat anything (Labradors, anyone?). Don’t let your dog get near your supply before or after launching. If you’re setting off your own fireworks, keep your dog inside.
Shelters and microchip companies always report an increase in lost dogs who’ve run away during fireworks. Dogs have been known to jump over fences, dig under fences and even jump out windows. Make sure that your dog is microchipped, that the chip is up-to-date, and that there’s some sort of ID on the collar or harness.
Watch the Windows and Front Door
If you’re hosting a party, your front door will be opening a lot. Since a party is a stressful environment for dogs, the instinct at some point may be to run away, especially as the noise level rises and during fireworks. Ask your guests to make sure that they close the door securely, and post a sign on the door as a reminder.
Keep all windows closed. Even if you have a small dog that you believe can’t reach the window, it’s surprising what a dog can do when terrified. If you have a back yard, make sure the door that leads to it is kept closed.
Be Smart About Decorations
Dogs will act strangely — and eat strange things — when under stress. Keep decorations out of reach. Watch out for potential choking hazards, like ornaments, tinsel, popcorn strings, old angel hair ornaments, even noisemakers. If your dog likes to mingle, consider keeping your decorations minimal.
Make sure stringed lights, candles, potpourri, and even that sheet of imitation snow some people use at the base of a Christmas tree is out of reach or access is blocked.
Seasonal plants like holly, poinsettia plants, mistletoe, amaryllis, English ivy and lilies are all toxic to dogs. Avoid having these in your home, or if you must, keep them in a place that your dog can’t reach.
Give Your Dog a Safe Haven
The best thing you can do for your dog during a New Year’s Eve party is give her a room of her own. Supply some kind of den environment, whether that’s a crate, a tent, a tunnel bed, or just a pile of blankets under a desk. Stock the room with your dog’s favorite toys, and anything that your pup uses in times of stress. (But avoid bones, as those should only be given under supervision). Fill up a bowl with clean water.
Keep the windows and door closed, and post a sign not to disturb the dog. No matter how caught up you get in the celebration, don’t forget to check in regularly so your dog knows you’re there. You are your dog’s security blanket. And if you’re going out for the night, double check that windows and doors are secure.
Don’t forget to have fun! Have a great New Year, and keep your pup happy and safe.