Dear Readers: Ahh, the cusp of a brand-new year. With parties, celebrations, etc., what requires extra attention and planning for families with pets? Fireworks.

Stress and anxiety can go hand in hand with the bright colors, booms and claps. Here are some hints to help your furry friend, courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( (Note: The hints work best for dogs; cats are more inclined to go on their own and hide in the house somewhere.)

* Remove the pets from the stressor as much as possible. A quiet interior room or small bathroom minus windows would work well.

* Soft, soothing music can help.

* There are anti-anxiety vests on the market that may assist in your dog feeling calmer; a tightfitting T-shirt can substitute.

* Worst-case scenario? The veterinarian may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication.

If you have an animal that is fearful of loud noises, it’s best to stay with your pet at this time of year and give your reassurance.

Dear Readers: Meet Mike H.’s Batman and Robin, ready for Christmas, on Santa’s lap. They are both Chihuahua mixes, and are both loved 100%. Surely Santa brought them everything they asked for!

Batman and Robin were rescued from the shelter — maybe that’s all they wanted, a loving “furever” home! To see Batman and Robin, visit and click on “Pet of the Week.” Do you have a furry and funny friend? Email a picture and description to

Dear Heloise: When going hiking in the forest or the mountains, I always carry a whistle and a flashlight with fresh batteries. When lost, the whistle saves shouting (vocal cords), and the flashlight at night can be seen miles away, especially from overhead airplanes.

Don S., via email

Dear Heloise: Having spent many years trying to fall asleep at night, I finally discovered an easy way to turn my brain off. I take a few sniffs of eucalyptus oil in each nostril, then lie down and take deep yoga breaths — a solution to the problem that usually puts my busy brain to rest in rapid fashion.

Miss Maui Mary in Hawaii

Dear Heloise: In regard to your recent hint about xylitol [an artificial sweetener that can be harmful to dogs], one hidden source is peanut butter. Some brands are now using xylitol to sweeten their product.

Many people use peanut butter to hide medications for their dogs, or they even spread peanut butter on the shower wall to distract their pups while bathing them. Double-check your brand if you do use peanut butter in these ways.

Sue G., via email

Dear Heloise: To best remove pet hair from large surfaces such as bedspreads, I use contact paper on a roll that I cut to a manageable length.

Jeanne H., via email

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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