The 4th of July, the celebration of the birth of our nation, is a day of good food, fun, celebrating with friends and family, and fireworks. But for some of our pets, it can be a day of anxiety. Pets experience the world through their senses and those senses – smell, vision, and hearing- are overloaded. It is a natural instinct for pets to be afraid of loud noises as a survival instinct, particularly since pet’s hearing is much more sensitive than humans. The loud noises of fireworks can trigger your pet’s nervous system to make them anxious and afraid. As a result of this natural survival instinct, dogs and cats run away on the Fourth of July more than any other day of the year. There are some important things to remember about 4th of July safety your pet.
Rockets’ Red Glare…May Make Your Pet Scared
Below are some tips to help keep your pet calm during this stressful time.
Safe Comfortable Place
It’s best to leave pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV on at normal volume to dampen jarring noises. Pets that are usually kept outdoors should be brought inside as an extra measure of safety. If you are worried or know your pet reacts negatively to fireworks try to arrange to have your pet in a place where there won’t be fireworks and they feel comfortable – a friend or relative’s house, boarding facility or doggie day care. If you cannot take your pet to a place away from fireworks, find a place where your pet feels comfortable. For dogs that are crated, their crate is their safe place and will help with anxiety. Make sure to leave them with a few treats and/or a favorite toy to keep them happy and occupied. For cats and dogs that are not crated, a small room where they can not injure themselves or cause destruction is the best choice. For more information about what to look for in a boarding facility – check out this link.
If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that there is nothing to worry about will also help them to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with their bodies, and will look to you for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well. Some owners find it helps to take their dog for a long walk to tire them out prior to fireworks and put them in a calm state.
Make sure your pet is wearing proper identification in case they run away. This way if they are found they can be easily returned to you.
If you have found that your pet does not respond well to fireworks, and the above tips do not help, sedation may be necessary. Sedative medication requires a visit with one of our veterinarians to find the proper medication to help relieve the anxiety associated with fireworks. It is important to plan a few weeks in advance so you can be prepared by the Fourth of July. Before giving sedative medication try to bring your pet to a calm state before giving the medication. A stressed out pet will react differently to sedative medication than a pet that is calm. If your pet is already experiencing a high anxiety level, her mental state will overrule the medication. Click here to request an appointment.
When Independence Day is over, your pet will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience.
-Meghan Burnell, AS