How to Keep Dogs & Cats Calm During New Year’s Eve [2024]

The slew of guests, fireworks, and festivities of the New Year may be exciting for humans, but it might be a different story for dogs and cats. Holiday-related activities may cause stress. And the biggest risk to pets during New Year’s Eve? They may escape and get lost due to severe anxiety.

In this complete guide, we’ve put together vital tips on how to have a safe New Year’s Eve - and in particular, prevent cat and dog fireworks anxiety.

What’s in This Guide?

A dog hiding under a blanket to represent dog fireworks anxiety during New Year's Eve

Why are Dogs & Cats Scared on New Years? 

Fireworks are a particular source of cat and dog anxiety or fear that pet parents should keep in mind. Loud noises and bright flashes from fireworks can be frightening and overwhelming for both dogs and cats.

Though fireworks scare dogs and cats during New Year’s Eve, cat or dog fireworks anxiety is not the only thing to keep in mind. 

Dogs and cats can be stressed out by other elements of New Year’s Eve festivities, such as: 

  • Unfamiliar decorations
  • Loud music
  • Unfamiliar guests
  • Small children playing
  • Sparklers & party poppers
  • Popping champagne bottles
  • Party events & commotions

Signs of Dog & Cat Anxiety During NYE

A. Dog Fireworks Anxiety or General Anxiety During New Year

So how exactly does one recognize dog fireworks anxiety or dog anxiety in general? Here are a few signs to look out for: 

  1. Cowering
  2. Hiding or seeking shelter in an enclosed space 
  3. Urinating inside the house
  4. Panting or pacing 
  5. Barking or whining
  6. Trembling or shaking
  7. Restlessness and being more alert than normal
  8. Seeking attention or reassurance
  9. Scratching at the floor
  10. Licking their lips or yawning

B. Cat Fireworks Anxiety or General Anxiety During New Year

To the untrained eye, many cats seem unfazed by fireworks and festivities. So if you’re wondering whether or not your cat is actually afraid, look for the following behavioral clues regarding cat anxiety

  1. Hiding or seeking shelter in an enclosed space
  2. Increased aggression or decreased tolerance
  3. Dilated pupils (even if the cat is in a well-lit area)
  4. Flat or sideways ears
  5. Crouching or walking uncharacteristically closer to the ground
  6. Trying to escape
A cat hiding inside a box to represent cat anxiety during New Year

How Do I Keep my Dog Calm in New Year?: Ways to Prevent Dog Anxiety

1. Establish a Safe Space

Provide a crate or a quiet room where your dog can retreat to if they are feeling anxious. This can help your canine companion feel safe if the festivities get too much. 

Here are some rules and tips about establishing this doggy den:

  • Keep the den away from the hustle and bustle
  • Do not intrude into the dog’s safe space (and instruct your guests to do the same)
  • Place familiar items, food, and bed sheets to help your dog feel safe

2. Play White Noise

White noise helps to drown out the sound of the fireworks and make your dog feel more at ease.

3. Give Your Dog Exercise Before New Year’s Eve

Try giving your dog some exercise before the fireworks start: Taking your dog for a walk or run before New Year’s Eve will tire them out and thereby reduce their anxiety.

4. Relax

One of the ways to help dogs calm down is to also be at ease. Dogs can recognize human verbal and nonverbal cues. This means that if a pet parent is agitated about their dog’s wellbeing on New Year’s Eve, this may unintentionally cause the dog to feel more fearful. 

5. Added Precautions for the New Year

Never leave your dog outside unattended during New Year’s Eve. It is also important to make sure that your dog is wearing identification tags in case they manage to escape and get lost.

6. Dog Anxiety Aids

Anxiety aids like ThunderShirts and anxiety medication for dogs can help pets with severe anxiety. A thunder shirt helps reduce your dog's anxiety by providing a sense of pressure and security. And if you’re wondering if you need dog medication for anxiety, reach out to the Sploot team!

A dog happily relaxing and calm during New Year's Eve, free of dog fireworks anxiety

How Do I Calm My Cat Down in New Year?: Ways to Prevent Cat Anxiety

1. Give them Access to Hiding Spaces

As much as we’d like to have our cool cats hanging around for guests to adore during New Year’s Eve, they need to be given access to hiding spaces in case they become too afraid of the commotion. 

In addition, stress can make cats more aggressive — so it is recommended to tell guests (especially small kids) to leave the cat alone if the cat is hiding or acting fearful. 

2. Play Calming Music

Gentle music has a calming effect on cats. Before the hustle and bustle of the New Year festivities, try various types of calming music and see which one your cat responds to in the most relaxed way. This will be a good addition to your cat-calming tool kit on New Year’s Eve.

3. Have a Pheromone Diffuser Handy

Though a ThunderShirt can work for some cats, not all cats like wearing something on their body. Also, some cats like to groom more when stressed and a ThunderShirt can get in the way of that. The next best thing to have is a pheromone diffuser which releases a harmless compound that reassures cats. Pheromone diffusers help most cats feel more safe and secure.

4. Added Precautions for the New Year

Remember to always keep your cat inside during New Year, especially when the fireworks begin. Cats are escape artists - so make sure that all windows and doors are securely closed. To be on the safe side, make sure that your cat is wearing identification tags in case they do escape. 

5. Considering Cat Anxiety Medication

If a cat's anxiety is severe, we recommend pet parents to reach out to a veterinarian to help determine if medical intervention is necessary. 

A cat relaxing and calm during New Years Eve free of cat anxiety

Other Dog & Cat Safety Tips During New Year’s Eve

In addition to preparing for the major potential stressor of fireworks, there are a few additional practices to follow to keep your cat or dog safe and stress free during the holiday.

1. Keep NYE Decorations Out of Reach

Many decorations may contain small parts or materials that could become choking hazards if chewed and swallowed. It's crucial to keep decorations out of your pet's reach to avoid any potential accidents.

2. Instruct Guests Not to Feed Pets

Some human foods can be toxic to pets. By controlling what your pets consume, you reduce the risk of accidental ingestion of harmful substances during the party.

3. Feed Pets Before the Party

If pets are fed before the party, they are less likely to beg for food during the event. This also  reduces the chances of them entering "aggressive scavenger mode" to search for scraps that have fallen on the floor.

4. Keep Fireworks-Type Items Out of Reach

Fireworks and similar items often contain chemicals that can be toxic to pets if ingested. Dogs, in particular, may be attracted to the smell or appearance of these items, leading to potential ingestion.

Besides toxicity risks, there are risks of dogs and cats choking on small parts of fireworks or sustaining burns if they come into contact with lit items. Keeping these items out of reach is essential for pet safety during NYE.

Final Thoughts on Pet Safety & Wellbeing on NYE

This concludes our guide on keeping pets safe and calm during New Year’s Eve. We trust you found the information here helpful. If you have any specific questions or concerns, we are always here to help!

Sploot Veterinary Care is your go-to veterinary clinic for pet urgent care and primary care. We are here to guide parents through common New Year’s Eve challenges — such as dog fireworks anxiety, cat anxiety, pet injuries during New Year’s Eve, or toxic food ingestion. 

Our clinic doors are open 10 am - 10 pm, 365 days a year, including New Year’s Eve. Easily book an appointment online or chat with our team through the Sploot Vets app for questions and concerns. 

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!

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